Opinion: Reflections on self-reflection

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Friends, I have returned. My grand adventure in Southeast Asia was a success, and even more important, it taught me a few things about myself. Here’s what I learned:

I have trouble going with the flow. This wasn’t exactly a revelation (just ask my husband Doo), but it reaffirmed the fact that I occasionally have a hard time summoning personal flexibility when plans go awry. A canceled flight, a suspicious taxi ride and a stolen wallet left me strung out on adrenaline and panic-induced paralysis. To my credit, I didn’t completely melt down, but in retrospect, I certainly didn’t handle my mini-crises with aplomb.

I don’t need a man. Doo joined me for the first part of the trip, but I was solo for the last 12 days. I walked the streets of large cities at night, alone; managed to order food at restaurants, by myself, where English was not spoken; and exchanged money, organized tours and stayed at questionable hotels, all without a guy by my side. I didn’t necessarily like being solo (seeing a dog carcass on a butcher’s block is a sharable moment), but I proved that I can. Girl power!

I like small luxuries. I’m quite capable of traveling on a budget and fully understand that outside the U.S., things are exactly the same except entirely different. But abiding by the “Please don’t flush toilet paper of any kind down the pot” rule for almost three weeks is exhausting  and disgusting and helped me to realize how often I take our modern American conveniences for granted. Also, democracy. I definitely have a new appreciation for democracy.

Here’s to international experiences! Peace out.

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