published Sunday, May 5th, 2013

Harpe: Travel will just have to wait until I'm ready

By Corin Harpe

As I get older, the topic of why I've never traveled abroad seems to creep into my conversations with others, an annoyance similar to personal questions about marriage and career choices.

I am a homebody. Occasionally, I get the travel bug and want to use my day off to visit another state. But unlike many of my peers, I have never traveled outside the country. This is not from lack of opportunity; it's more from lack of desire.

In school, while others in my Spanish classes had an obsessive desire to visit a Spanish-speaking country, I just didn't get it. I had no interest in doing something outside of what I was most familiar with.

Perhaps my aversion is because members of my family are not big travelers. When I was younger, simple trips to Atlanta or other cities with my parents, often for business, seemed more stressful than enjoyable. Therefore, I associated travel with stress and interruption.

Even in college I was amazed at my classmates' willingness to leave their friends and their new college environment, which they had worked so hard to adjust to, and travel somewhere completely different, and for a semester no less. In those days, a semester was a lifetime.

In my mind, the effort to go abroad has always outweighed the actual experience of going, and perhaps this concern brings out some of my insecurities. The idea of providing for myself with food, shelter, getting from place to place and sustaining a means of employment is scary enough in my current city and living circumstances. Those fears would grow even more in another country, especially if English was not the main language.

I used to have a sense of disdain toward the idea of a set life, but my daily routine provides a sense of security. I find happiness in living day to day with as much familiarity and as few surprises as possible. For me, predictability relieves some of life's stressors.

Some people have told me that I will never have another opportunity to travel abroad if I don't go when I'm young. Whether intended or not, their message is that my life will never be as good as it is now. Who wants to hear that?

As I get older, I have a greater sense of maturity and a greater sense of appreciation toward the world that I did not previously have. Yes, traveling at a younger age might have done more to shape my worldview, but traveling at an older age will cause me to think critically about how I see my culture and way of living in comparison to others.

I have a greater sense of freedom as an adult, a greater sense of self-assuredness for being able to provide for myself that makes the idea of travel more appealing as I grow older.

Even when I sense others' disapproval of my choices, I am not going to let the pressure of "Oh, you should have traveled when you were young" get to me. Instead, I am going to look forward to a great adventure, someday when I am ready.

Email Corin Harpe at corinharpe@gmail.com.

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