I’m an introvert. I don’t care to be the center of attention, I don’t thrive in social settings outside of my circle of friends and family, and I prefer to fly under the radar. These traits would probably be better suited for someone who was not a 6-foot tall black woman with a love for big hair, nonetheless here we are. Being an introvert has been fine by me all my life because I never felt as if I was missing out on anything by being who I was. But as I’ve listened to people recount the stories of their travels, one common thing I’ve come across is how they feel as if the people they encounter while traveling are just as essential as the destination itself.
in·tro·vert: minds one’s own business (source: Sanura’s dictionary)
This got me to thinking about what I could potentially be missing out one as I go from country to country, city to city, place to place. So with my last trip to South America where I visited Brazil & Peru, I challenged myself to be more open and inviting to people and experiences as I encountered them. But once I was there, I found that I didn’t have to do much because the natural curiosity of the people who lived in these cities served as an ice breaker. Sharing stories of what brought us to the place we were in allowed me to open up to strangers and tell my story. My curiosity compelled me to ask questions of locals myself. If only briefly, I stepped outside of my comfort zone and realized that maybe everyone else was on to something. Maybe there is something to engaging in conversations with absolute strangers. And in the end, maybe your overall experience is better for having done it.But then there are the goodbyes. The knowing that chances are you may never cross paths again. That’s the part I don’t like. I know the fanciful traveler would say they’ll probably encounter them on another journey, but I’m not a fanciful traveler. I’ll always wonder about the names of those adorable girls in Foz do Iguacu who ran up to me in a grocery store to tell me they loved my hair. They didn’t speak English, and I didn’t speak Portuguese, but they knew the word “love”. I’ll always wonder about the group of pre-teens at the Magic Water Circuit Park in Lima, Peru, who I thought wanted me to take a picture of them, but turned out they wanted to take a picture with me. I’ll always wonder, and this makes me wonder if being an introvert, isn’t so bad after all.