As you saw from my last travel recap post, I went to Cuba! One of the biggest differences from my previous travel experiences is that I didn’t go with my Significant Other (S.O.), but with two girl friends. I’d never done that before. It was somewhat of a radical experience given the aforementioned, and that it’s been 3 years since graduating college that I’ve had to share a living space with “roommates.” But I’m so grateful for having had this girls-only travel experience.
I just came back from Cuba and I have so many thoughts! With the newly eased travel restrictions, there will be a lot more Americans traveling to Cuba and wanting to know what to expect. In lieu of me being able to summarize in a neat little bow what Cuba is like (beyond the words “fascinating” and “intriguing”), here are my raw observations and a few travel tips:
My identity for all my childhood, adolescence and young adulthood was the quiet girl, yes (a depthless, limiting label I resented). But I was also the smart girl. And that label, I ate up. I devoured it. I wore that badge proudly, and had folders upon folders of other such badges and certificates saved by my doting mom to wear as back-up. Citizenship Award. Honor Roll. Fourth Grade Spelling Bee Champion. Principal’s Award. Highest Grade in Social Studies. Highest Grade in English. High school internship at Columbia University. Salutatorian.
In the beginning…
The first conversation he remembers us having, he’d walked up to an empty seat on an otherwise crowded bus of rowdy college students and asked if he could join the girl sitting alone by the window. “OK,” she says. He doesn’t remember her making eye contact and that he talks for most of the conversation. Strange, he thinks. But intriguing. Much later, with ice thoroughly broken by warmed affections for each other, he learns that the girl finds eye contact uncomfortable, that she thinks it strange to start conversations with strangers, and that she quite enjoys sitting alone. Oh, and she thinks. A lot. She’s a die-hard introvert, he discovers. Yet he manages to swoop into her reserved heart and the rest is history.
No surprise here, I’m an introvert. It’s one of the many things I know to be true of myself, and thank heavens, I’m finally learning to accept and celebrate this very big part of me. I can tell you, though, being in Corporate America has made this whole introvert self-love thing pretty challenging.
We regret to inform you…
I got a rejection notice today, and it sucks. You’d think I’d be wholly desensitized to being turned down the amount of times it’s happened, but no – the pang of disappointment still hurts. Seeing that tower I built in my head of what could have been crumble to the ground is never easy. More than once, it crosses my mind to never build such a tower again, to never want anything so bad, and definitely not ever try to get it. Because it’s sad, discouraging, and heartbreaking when those seeds of hope and desire don’t blossom to fruition. It just sucks. But I can’t lie, I have gotten much better at dealing with rejection.
Acknowledging the gap between where you are and where you want to be can be frustrating. You see, I have a vision for the woman I want to be: someone confident in her own skin. Someone with the quick wit to admonish anyone who’d challenge her self-worth or the principles she holds dear. She loves hard and she knows how to accept that same love in return because gosh, darn it, she deserves it. She knows her place in the world and she kicks ass in her chosen field. Her work environment inspires her and the fruit of this inspiration not only sustains her livelihood, but makes the world as a whole an all the more livable place.
I look in the mirror and give a hurried tug at my twist-out in prep for the most rudimentary length check you could imagine. The hair by my ears falls a few inches past my collar bone, the hair at the back stretches to a couple inches above my bra strap, and the hair in the front is a few centimeters beyond my chin. Noted. Assessment? It’s growing. And it doesn’t feel too dry. (That’s important).
Scrolling through Instagram, I feel the sudden, involuntary gut-drop as I swipe down past the fancy décor, cute puppies and exotic locations: someone I know from college has announced his/her [insert success about something I always wanted to do]/have been trying to attain for the past [insert a time that shouldn’t be taking so long]. Let the comparing begin…
I’m the kind of introvert who loves learning about new cultures. (African Studies minor, wassup)! Being intentional about traveling abroad to experience unique cultures beyond the books has added a dimension to my life that is so filling. (And it helps that I’ve got a cute travel partner, too). But even across oceans, my #quietquirks aren’t far behind. In fact, they’re right there with me next to the sunscreen and behind the passport. Yes, being an introverted traveler has its challenges, but done on our own terms, traveling is not only plain fun, but it evolves us in ways we didn’t know imaginable.