That bothers me.
It disturbs me that I’m living my life without context; without knowing what it’s like to live in a world where appearance isn’t important or where a sense of pride in your own hard work is worth more than how much your sunglasses cost.
Sometimes I feel I’m living a lie. I am spoiled. My family is upper middle class, and always has been. I didn’t get a car for my sixteenth birthday, and I don’t wear diamond earrings the size of cherry pits, but I am spoiled. I have a taste for what many call “the finer things.” But what does that mean? There is far more intrinsic value in a brilliant smile despite hardships I will never know than there is in being seen in a pair of Jimmy Choos.
I told my mom about Semester at Sea. She made it sound like I was crazy for wanting to see how other people lived. She thinks I should save my money and go on a “fantastic vacation for less than $20,000 a year.” I know why she tore me down. She’s afraid. Who wouldn’t be? She loves me and wants me to be safe. My mother is my biggest role model, and I love and respect her to pieces, but she’s letting her preconceived notion of the world keep her from looking at things from another perspective. She thinks I’m crazy for wanting to visit Cape Town, South Africa, Accra, Ghana and Havana, Cuba because they hate Americans- and think of what awful things could happen to me!
The truth is that I stand a better chance of dying in a car accident than being the victim of a terrorist attack. I know Americans aren’t well perceived by many countries, and I know risks exist. But just like the risk of a car accident- that doesn’t (and shouldn’t!) keep me from walking out my front door! If no one is brave enough to cross borders, then here we all would sit making assumptions and generalizations about everyone else. People are afraid of what they don’t know. Maybe my going to Havana and seeing that they aren’t a people to be feared, and showing the people that Americans aren’t a people to be feared, will help things get better. We can’t just close our eyes to the rest of the world.
I’ve been struggling with a quarter life crisis. Who am I? Why am I here? What am I supposed to be doing? I’m torn. A big part of me says, learn skills, get a good job, buy a big house, start a family, but I know that’s because I’ve been conditioned to believe that’s the way it should be. It has been programmed in my brain. And for many, there is nothing else to do. It is what people all over the world do. There’s nothing wrong with living that life, as long as you are having some kind of positive impact on the world. But I feel an overwhelming feeling that I’m meant for something different. I’ve always done things differently. I’m not afraid of unconventional. I feel like I should be using that to my advantage. I want a broad knowledge of the world and of the people in it. I want perspective. I want to change people’s perspectives, even if it means putting myself in harm’s way, and nothing is going to stop me.
“When you change the way people think, things will never be the same.”