I’ve been traveling for the last 11 days. I went from Chicago to camping in the Rocky Mountains, to spending a day wandering through Denver. I flew from Denver to Portland, saw the city, the nature and the culture there. Then last but not least, I took a four hour train ride to Seattle and spent a few hours there exploring the city, before flying back to Chicago.
The trip was eye opening in many ways and I’m glad I was able to make it happen.
There’s three main things that I think I got from it all.
The first thing is that it’s very interesting traveling on your own. I seem to have this personality, and I’ve always had this ability but never noticed much about it, I can essentially start a conversation with just about anyone. I ended up meeting 3 different people all from very different walks of life while waiting for my plane, sitting on the train and sitting on a plane. Each one of them was very different. Two of them were immigrants, either first or second generation. Each of them spoke perfect English and had lived in America most of their lives.
It was really interesting getting to know their unique stories and histories and it made me realize how much we, immigrants, from all over the world, are really the back bone of this country. America is a land of immigrants and we all work very hard to get by and make this country what we all sought to get out of it when we moved here. It’s crazy to me that all of our differences are now getting painted out to be our faults.
I’ve lived in Chicago most of my life, or the suburbs, whatever. Regardless, in Chicago, you can literally try just about any type of food, go and listen to just about any type of music, see any type of dance. It’s a city of culture and a true mixture of everyone’s backgrounds blended together. That’s what makes it so beautiful! We’re so used to it that it’s just a normal part of living here! This should be celebrated!
I found out while traveling that Portland for example, while screaming about diversity and inclusivity, is actually a pretty white community. There isn’t much diversity and it’s gotten to the point that everyone is screaming about it so much, that it’s become a joke. Lots of people joked about this on multiple occasions! Diversity isn’t as ingrained in the actual culture there as much as it is in Chicago, people just mainly use it as a point of judgement or calling people out. So strange.
I really do believe that we are all different for a reason and that’s what makes our world beautiful. If we were all the same, we’d be boring robots, and what kind of a world is that?! We might as well be taken over by programmed AI at that point!!
This all leads into the other thing I learned while traveling. That is that we all choose very different paths for our lives. I feel like we know this, and obviously see this on social media and such, but we never really experience what that means.
For example, both my sister and many of her friends are studying and working in the psychological field. Their days consist of hearing people’s struggles, their troubles, traumas, anger, frustrations etc. All of this is very heavy information to have to process everyday, to separate yourself from and still try to live your life, not influenced by them. Yet, they love it! They’ve devoted more than a decade of their lives just to studying all of this!
I met a man that works in the educational field as part of the administration. His days are filled with traveling from Oregon to Washington and else where, for meetings, for presentations. He spends his time writing out memos and financial documents, plans on improving the educational system.
I met a girl who’s in school to become a lawyer and yet works as a cam girl right now to pay for it all. I also met a man who’s a lawyer, who struggles with his sight and yet is on a computer or phone all day, figuring out legal issues for a electric company.
I’m over here filling my life with art and animation. Spending my days on the computer or in the studios working on adding beauty and telling compelling and enticing stories to the masses.
At first, after hearing some of these other jobs I felt like my job just sounded like a cop out. “I make art!” Haha and yet each job is important. Each persons path is just as much an important string in our societies tapestry. Without art, the universal, emotional language of the world, we wouldn’t be able to connect as well, across countries, cultures and languages. We wouldn’t have something to ease our emotions or make us feel something.
There always has to be a balance between good and bad. There always has to be something you can fall back on and just enjoy. Just purely enjoy. Or cry at. Whatever it is. Art connects the world and while it seemed to me at first like not as important, I take that back. I think it’s a fundamental piece of our well-being. I mean we spend hours as a society just looking at pictures and listening to music.
The third thing traveling made me realize is how awesome my home actually is. I think that when we spend so much time sitting on social media and scrolling through people living in Ibiza, people going clubbing every night and living this extravagant lifestyle, all these very curated photos, articles and thoughts, it makes us feel like our life is shitty. We forget to appreciate what we have. We lose sight of the people around us that feel like home. That we don’t get tired of and can just be with, without expectations or judgement. There’s something so pure in that. Also, this whole mountain craze makes anyone who doesn’t live in the mountains feel like they’re doing something wrong and need to move as soon as possible!
Well guess what? I went to the mountains, to different places in the mountains! Yes, it was beautiful, but in Colorado for example, the dryness KILLED ME. I had intense headaches, couldn’t breath and the dryness was just making my entire experience miserable. The mountains in Oregon, while also beautiful, are just cool scenery. Everyone climbs there, and that’s cool, but I’m not a climber. Nor am I a snowboarder.
I feel like we’re conditioned through social media to think yes, this is what I want and need because look at all these happy people with their pretty photos! We don’t really stop to think, “but will this be right for me?”
I realized I prefer my scenery, where I moved. Lots of water and greenery and forests around and yet just a bit of a commute away, a flourishing and culturally rich city. A city full of diversity, hard working humans, art, culture and beauty. Just about anything I want to see or experience, I can do here. Most of all, all the people I love and care about are here! Yes it gets cold, but in Portland it is gloomy and rains A TON, in Colorado it gets crazy hot and is super dry! No place is going to be perfect, but this one feels like home.
I think traveling is meant for giving you perspective and also a change of routine that allows you to value your normal life and your normal routine. Next time you’re scrolling through social media, don’t forget to think about the possible negative parts of things that people don’t show you on there and really count the things you are thankful and grateful for. There’s so much there ❤️