When traveling overseas, you’ll have the wonderful opportunity to plumb the depths of your own disappointment and frustration. What a joy. I knew this already as I had traveled as a child and still distinctly remember the kind of things that came as crushing disappointments at that age. (And… it looks like some things never change.)
I come back to that tired phrase– the experience stretches you and makes you a better person! Well, it’s true. It can. But it can be a thoroughly unpleasant situation to sift through the disappointment and frustration and turn them into self-reflection-fueled change.
We run into disappointment all the time. Being new everywhere we go, we have to rely on random guesses or the advice of strangers. Which honestly, the latter are still random guesses, as we don’t know these people and can’t really be guaranteed good taste or good directions on their part.
I’m embarrassed to admit the amount of times my day/night has been ruined because of a bad food experience. The bad food in and of itself doesn’t ruin my day… it’s the craving something, waiting for it, thinking you’ve found it, looking forward to exactly what you’re going to order, wanting it so bad and imagining the enjoyment of eating it… and then it disappoints.
It’s the disappoint over failed expectations that ruins my days.
And it’s not just food, although like I said, that’s the embarrassingly frequent culprit. The thing about being nomads is that our constant is actually being new. We’re never sure if our driver is taking us the best route. We’re never sure if the street vendor is charging us the right price. There are ways to wager a guess, sure. But we have to walk into most situations with a measure of trust, and that leaves us open for some disappointment.
And disappointment in humanity can be some of the worst kind.
Thankfully, we’ve met plenty of nice, honest people who help hold up that heavy ideal, my idea of good in this world. And no matter where I’ve traveled, there is certainly always something I can eat to sustain myself. And because we’re willing to look hard, or make it ourselves, there is always something I can eat and truly enjoy too.
But there are those days where we end up paying a lot of what we call “stupid taxes” (or as my friend Krista kindly– and perhaps more accurately– renamed, “ignorance tax”). We overpay on lots of things because we just don’t know what we’re doing. That leaves us feeling helpless. Two adults who had a pretty good handle on adult life in the States, failing at things children instinctively understand in this new place.
Of course, it goes beyond just money. Finances are an easy, tangible target, but ultimately superficial. Anyone who sets out to travel to a new places is aware that many things will be different there. A clash of cultures is to be expected.
We love to explore new cultures and even though we are so far from mastering any of them, we revel in the new and unknown. It’s interesting. As a result, frustration with new cultures has been kept to mostly a minimum for us. However, there are a few things on which we seem to be a little too stuck in our ways.
Yesterday, we had an absolutely horrid experience at the doctor’s office. From no one being in the building during their open hours to people clambering to cut in line in front of us, it was frustrating to say the least. A local acquaintance waved this all off as very normal, but it’s the times that we learn it the hard way that build a slow boil of frustration inside. Frustration that Tyler has to remind me to keep in check so it doesn’t overflow into rage against something I don’t understand.
Because isn’t it always the people, systems, things we don’t understand that throw us off the most?
Yesterday, I thought I might punch someone at the doctor’s– at least medical attention would be close at hand?— and I also threw away an entire chocolate milkshake because it was too heavy to carry all the way home. (Yes, you read that right.) I think it’s safe to assume I can still be a
child brat. Travel gets to me. Some days just really are the worst. But… travel stretches you and makes you a better person!
We allow ourselves to wallow for a few minutes in disappointment and frustration. On bad days, maybe we’ll even give ourselves a few hours. And then, we endeavor to be those adults we know are somewhere inside. We dive back in and say our apologies and put together a game plan and decide tomorrow will be different. Even if we know all our work to feel at home here will be washed away with the next plane ticket to a new place, it’s worth it to figure out life here. The best parts of traveling overseas are experiencing new things, and letting them change you. I used to think the change came easy, and some days it still does, but the best changes can sometimes come with a little sting.
How do you experience disappointment and frustration in everyday life? What lessons have you learned while traveling?
feature photo: we’ve been eating nothing but peanut butter sandwiches this last week.. can you tell who’s sick? haha. it’s also kept us busy and away from the blog. sorry for the absence!