3. Don’t Judge
I never liked to think of myself as a judgemental person, but the truth is we all do it. I’ve liked to think of myself as someone who is generally accepting and not bitchy, and won’t make prejudices based on silly things. I don’t think I really learnt to do this until I started traveling, and I think this is a big one for many people. When you travel, you meet all sorts of characters, and a beautiful thing happens. People who would never in a million years socialise at home, end up getting on like a house on fire. I saw laid-back dudes with dreads and tattoos getting on with footballer ‘lads’. I met girls who I judged at first for wearing make up all the time, even round the pool, and guys who seemed to care more about their hair and beer and ‘shagging birds’ than anything else. This was wrong of me. I got to know people and became really good friends with people I never would get on with at home, because at the end of it all we were traveling for similar reasons. We wanted to see a different way of life, a life that cannot be represented in the UK.
Of course, I did meet some people along the way I really could not abide. You cannot get on with everyone and your bound to meet some people throughout months of travel who annoy you to no end. But thankfully most of the people I met were people I could get on with. I try not to judge people based purely on appearance anymore. Your best friend might not be the person with the same aesthetic as you. I just try to get on with absolutely everyone and my life is far more richer for it.
4. Be Yourself.
Again, this is something I thought I’d already mastered, but it turns out I was wrong. Of course, ‘be yourself’ is a pretty broad statement, and I mean it in every sense of the word. Before I came traveling, I like to think I was pretty secure in myself. I was loud, I said what I meant, I danced, I didn’t usually feel shy. However, without knowing, I was still holding myself back in many ways. Sometimes it was simple aesthetic things, which seem like nothing but are in fact important in determining and asserting who we are – things like not wearing something I liked or getting a tattoo/piercing I liked because I knew people would judge it. I wasn’t bothered about people I didn’t know, it was more people like my friends. I worried about their opinions and would base what they thought around some of these choices. Sometimes it was much bigger things. I was often too afraid to put my writing out on a public domain and advertise it amongst my peers because I feared the criticism or judgement, or I was too afraid to entertain big plans for my future, discuss those plans and put them into action, because back at home they seemed ridiculous. It seemed easier to say, as a journalism student, I’d like to work for a magazine, than to say I’d like to work for myself as a writer and a yoga teacher. That was too wacky, bold and frightening for many people.
Traveling around, that changed. Like I said above, you meet all sorts of characters living all sorts of realities, and you learn you can be who you want and people probably won’t judge you. I started actually entertaining the ideas of what I envisioned my life to be like. I wrote more than I ever wrote in my life, even when I was a kid. I wore what I wanted. I told people I was a writer. It was slow, at first I still told them I was just a humble graduate and barista. But then I realised I was in charge of my life.