Do you ever find yourself playing the competition game with other travellers? You know the one I’m talking about. Who has been to most remote place, spent the least on gelato, went on the least amount of sleep, who has eaten the grossest thing? Does this ring a bell?
We’re all guilty of it on some level. We get proud of our accomplishments and like to compare notes with others to see who is doing it the ‘right’ way and get pleasure from knowing you’re superior in some way to someone else. It’s douchey and pointless but in a lot of ways it’s also fun.
Except it really stresses me out.
I’m not saying I’m going to stop doing it or that I think everyone who does it is a jerk, but instead that I think there has to be a better way of living than constantly comparing yourself with others. It’s an impossible game to win and be satisfied with because there is always someone better than you and not only that, but better is a subjective term. Just because I think something is impressive or worth aspiring to it doesn’t mean it is to you, and even if it is, so what? It doesn’t prove anything!
There are many times I’ve been sitting around with others who have travelling tales to tell and I need to just excuse myself and stay away for a while. I have done some pretty exciting things in my life that I’m proud of and I don’t care if someone else agrees. Some people just like to criticize others to get a reaction or to make themselves feel better, so there’s no pleasing them.
Additionally, I feel like if I’m only surrounded by those kind of people, those who are heavily focused on one very specific niche, I lose perspective on what is important and can’t be related to. I get my head so far up my own butt that I start to think it only matters what a select group of nerds thinks and the other aspects of my life fall by the wayside. It’s how I think grad students must feel after a while.
I know this is an overly simplistic reading of this issue, but there are a lot of people who have their whole identity wrapped up in being a traveller. That’s what they are. They are the travel person. The only problem is, so are many others and chances are, there’s someone out there who is more hardcore than you are. Does this bother you? Maybe not, but I know it bothers some people who have to be number one.
Travel is something I enjoy but I almost wish I could do it in a vacuum so I could enjoy it on my own level without worrying about what other people think. Yes, I like to learn from others and sometimes the stress is a necessary evil in order to make that happen but I wish there was a way I could avoid the stress of the comparing game and just do what I love to do.