Now that I’ve made it known that I’m traveling again, I’m getting a lot of familiar questions. My coworkers, especially, seem to have conspired to take turns asking me the same things over and over in what is probably just a by-product of an office environment, but sometimes feels like an incredibly elaborate test of my resolve. However, I don’t mind because every time I get more and more excited. They might also be starting to catch on to the fact that I love talking, but who knows.
Here’s a quick rundown of the types of questions and comments people tend to make when they hear I am leaving the country, and how I like to respond to them (if I have the time):
Aren’t you scared?
… which obviously isn’t true. I’ve written all about how scared I am of different things. But for a lot of people, being scared is a reason to not do something, and it’s hard to explain how I feel. If I know I can do something but it scares me to do it, I feel like I absolutely have to do it. I at least have to try, because I know I will regret not trying a lot more than I will regret my failure.
Do you speak any Mandarin?
And following the last question…
Isn’t it going to be hard because you don’t speak the language?
… but not for the reason you’re thinking. Most people are worried about getting around, ordering food, and finding a toilet. What they don’t consider is that you have no choice but to learn those things. Either through bad pantomime or sheer stubbornness, you will survive because you’re programmed with these basic needs. What I’m more concerned with, however, is relating to the people around me. It’s true you never feel more like an outsider than when there’s a language barrier, but in my experience the gap is most evident when you lack the ability to actually express yourself. Not being able to explain how I feel or understand how someone else feels is going to be a much bigger pain than ordering a beer will be.
How do your parents feel about it?
Excited for me, but scared. Haha.
Yes, we laugh about it. And I love my parents and I am glad they support me. But they also couldn’t stop me if they tried, so is it entirely relevant? I don’t know. Moving on.
That’s so exciting; this is such a great opportunity! You really should do this sort of thing while you’re young. I have always wanted to travel.
Yeah, it’s great! That’s why I’m doing it.
It could be any one of these things, or all of them, but it’s guaranteed to show up. I have to remind myself every time not to let this sort of comment go by casually, and remember to say “Well, you should go travel then!” I’m no expert at this point, but I’ve had more than my share of travel opportunities, and if I want to continue to travel I have to take every excuse I can find. Probably the most important and best advice I’ve ever given or received was this: There is no right time. It’s understandable to try to save up the money, but if you don’t set it aside for this express purpose, you’ll find something else to spend it on. There is no right time. You can spend the rest of your life waiting for the ideal time to travel, and never find it.
The world is a humongous, wonderful place. You owe it to yourself to go see as much of it as you can.