Having lived away from home since 2010, I strongly support people of all ages to either take a moment to travel abroad (beyond the USA), study abroad and/or work abroad. Each of these offers a different and yet similar benefit: exposure.
When I was a teen, my mom would talk about the importance of exposure and I agreed with the idea and yet didn’t fully understand what she meant by it. I’m still learning what it means.
I know that travel is a privilege not afforded by many, but there’s still a large population of people that could travel if they made it a priority over name brand clothes and tech.
Exposure helps you realize that your way isn’t the only way to live and even though I don’t have to agree with how you do things, I don’t have to judge you.
Exposure helps you realize that yes, we may be different, but in a lot ways we’re the same. People here in Yangon, chew betel, a mild narcotic that’s gross as heck that leaves their mouths red and their teeth looking dreadful, but you have people in America that chew tobacco and spit in a cup.
Everyday around the world there’s a trifling dude trying to get back with his baby’s mother and she’s fed up with his bs. There’s also a single mom waking up at 5am, getting her kids ready, taking public transportation or walking to her hustle.
Exposure helps you put your problems into perspective. Social media often leads us to think that everyone is living their best life (the highlight reel you see) all the time and that if you’re not, what are you even doing with your life. You start to doubt yourself and self-worth and you see many young people becoming depressed, but it’s like look dude, life exists beyond this shallow persona. Working hard for the things you want, not always getting the things you want and postponing instant gratification for rewards later are a part of life. And it’s quite okay to not be lybf. There are people suffering from lack of basic needs, sleeping on the streets, getting abused by people that claim to love them.
A few minutes everyday, I people watch from my apartment windows. I peep into the lives of the people in the buildings near my own. I see people spend time with their families, play with their pets, hang their laundry and look down at the hustle and bustle of the wet market below us. We don’t know each other and we don’t speak the same language. But if we happen to make eye contact, we both nod our heads and smile at each other.