Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Why It Pays to Stay Open

I think that many of us come from cultures where being naturally open to people and situations isn't something we learn, practice, or even ever really, truly apply. We are brought up to be polite to people, but not necessarily open ourselves up to them. Why is that? What is so bad and scary about being open to people?

These are some of the things that I question and examine as I become a more open person. I wonder what and where I would be if I hadn't closed myself off for some period of years, simply because I thought that the real me wasn't good enough, wasn't similar enough to what the media and society expected, wanted and projected, and was trying so hard to fit in, that I didn't end up belonging anywhere. I wonder if what and where I am would be any different, if I'd been more trusting of others from the start. But not anymore do I need to wonder these things!

Now, I've come to a point where I love myself, I am proud of the fact that I'm not a manufactured clone, and even prouder that I am an insanely wacky and semi-societal outcast. I love the freaks in the world, and have long since thrown out the thought and word "weird." And one of the things that has helped me accomplish this sense of self declaration and love is without a doubt, t r a v e l.

When you're traveling, especially alone, it will not do you any good to be closed off to anything. If you're closed off to the people around you, you're going to feel so uncomfortable and alone, you won't have a good time. And if you're not open to the experiences and moments that come your way, you're not affecting anyone else other than yourself, and will actually miss out on life.

A perfectly good example of why staying open is such a beautiful thing can be seen in my current situation...

I couchsurfed for the first time when I studied abroad in 2009/10, and instantly wished I'd been doing it the whole time I was abroad. I met cool people, was taken to more local places, and saw things I wouldn't have been able to discover otherwise. And since I prefer to travel as a local than a tourist, it really was the perfect way for me. So when I returned abroad, I knew it would be the main way I'd find a place to stay during my travels. Since I moved into my new flat, we've had at least 15 different surfers, from at least 10 counties, and four continents. And on the weekend that I went crazy and took in four different people at once, I became really addicted to it. (Read about it here:)

I had already booked my flight to spend Semana Santa (Holy Week) in Greece, which, I'll admit, was part of the reason I accepted the Greek to surf our place, even though I'd already said yes to two others. We all passed the time so well together, and I was glad we'd meet up again in some months. And then it happened to work out even better, than the Aussie we had, was going to be in Egypt just before I came to Greece, and decided to come too, meaning that three people, who before had been strangers, all came together again under one roof, in a different country.

If I hadn't been open to couchsurfing and instead just followed my "that seems creepy, weird, and kind of scary" thoughts, I would have never discovered this amazing world of staying in the homes of strangers, and I'd never have ended up where I am right now! I'd be in a hostel, with a bunch of other visitors, having a blast, but also missing this deeper level of life that can happen when you travel. And I would never have found myself in an international group of friends. All of the life I live now, the things I see, the dreams I turn into reality, it's all possible because I've stayed open.

Give it a try, you really never know what will happen!

Blessings, Love & Light to all, especially my fellow wanderers! 

*Disclaimer: I cannot be held responsible for any "negative" situation that you may find yourself in. Always follow your instincts, and if something doesn't seem right, bail. Go with God.

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