You wanna talk about something that is a total mind f*ck? Slow travel as an adolescent.
Not only are we forming our identities internally, but we are also doing this while being slowly dipped (or accidentally dropped) into a melting pot of new languages, traditions, expectations, pulled back out and dipped (dropped) into another one.
And to be honest with you, this is the beautiful way to grow I can think of.
Slow travel on its own is something worth doing to expand empathy levels and personal change, but I argue that traveling slowly, deliberately, is going to shape people in a very fundamental way as adolescents.
I have been able to slow travel a fair amount during my adolescence and feel like a mega absorbent sponge. While I was in Morocco, I didn’t know how to spell most of the words I used on the street (French) and kept mixing them up with another language (Spanish) while constantly translating both languages in my head (English) to try to see if there were any similarities in the other languages being thrown at me (Arabic, Darija) I could pick out.
I lived with five other young American women between the ages of 18 and 21, all of whom were going through some version of an identity crisis while here, myself included. Who are we when we are removed from the places we know? The people we have connected with? What do our bare foundations look like?
The beautiful thing about these identity crises is the documentation of them via Instagram, blogs, journaling and the conversations with each other. Questions that were asked included and are in no way limited to:
How do I learn languages?
How do I make friends?
How do I make friends with people who don’t speak my language (and vice versa)?
What makes me uncomfortable? What can I handle?
What are my boundaries?
Is every one happy? Am I the only one feeling depressed about being uncomfortable?
Is it okay to sleep this much?
AM I ALLOWED TO EAT EVERYTHING ON THIS TABLE??
Is it okay to not like every place we go?
What if I don’t fall in love with Morocco?
The list goes on and brought some of us back to an elementary knowledge of ourselves. How do we behave in uncomfortable situations? How do we move through these moments and make something of them?
I am now back in the United States after a six-month
stint abroad. I asked myself questions like these every day and was constantly in learning mode. There is a pressure we put on travelers to feel grateful and excited all the time for the opportunity to be on an adventure, yet sometimes these adventures have hardpoints. And we need to accept and nurture those as well to make room for all the learning we are doing every day.