Lesson #28: It’s not you, it’s me (I really mean that…)

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Lets talk about travel. Let’s talk about social dynamics. Lets talk about living with someone 24/7, making constant decisions, eating three meals together when you have just shared every single experience (including your current stomach situations) during the day. Lets talk about one of the most unique situations you will most likely ever find yourself in. The beautiful and sometimes tricky world of travel friendships.

Let me start off with a sort of disclaimer, an acknowledgment of how incredibly lucky I have been as a traveler. In my many different trips I have had some of the best travel partners possible. However, I don’t really feel like writing about the peachy moments when we cliff jumped together hugging after the plunge and smiling about how fortunate we both felt to be experiencing this incredible world together (don’t think you would really want to read about that anyway).

What I do want to write about is the time my friend and I showed up to the beach town of Tagana, Colombia together expecting to quickly find a place to stay. Instead after an eight hour long bus ride of sitting in our own sweat, an hour of walking down the confusing streets in the blazing hot mid afternoon sun, we were met with the realization that our two options for the night included a thirty dollar each accommodation (which at the time felt like a complete budget buster) or a stinky room sans shower. So what did we do, we tried to reach a decision, got instantly irritated with each other, and marched off in opposite directions both letting frustrated tears stream down our faces.

Were we actually mad at each other? Absolutely not, but when you’re on the road for so long with only one other person your frustrations end up getting shot in their direction, warranted or not. As someone who has spent a lot of time in this fragile social dynamic I’ve realized you can actually learn quite a lot from entering into a the social pressure cooker that is life on the road.

The annoyances are only going to stop if you have the maturity to realize that you are the only one you can control. So often the frustrations that we experience with others are actually only our own responses to them.

Take today for example, out on a bike ride I felt myself lagging behind my travel buddy. As she quickly biked up the mountainside I felt my blood start to boil. Why was she so damn fast? Was she not considerate of the fact that I was lagging behind? Did she even care about me at all?

That’s precisely the point where I realized how absolutely ridiculous I was being. It’s easy to pin your emotions on others, trick yourself into thinking that the way you feel is at the fault of those around you. Turns out it’s not, I felt bad that I was behind, I felt inadequate, and I got in a mood about it. Instead of admitting my insecurity to myself I simply started lashing out in my head pinning something on someone else that had absolutely nothing to do with them.

I guess this is a post about travel relationships, but it works just as well when applied to life (the situations simply come up more often while we are traveling). When you feel yourself reacting to someone else the most important question to ask is not what are they doing to annoy you, but why are you reacting the way you are.

Check yourself, because turns out you can’t change others, and the truth is more often than not our responses to others has a whole lot more to do with ourselves than it has to do with them.

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