What Traveling The World During a Pandemic Taught Me About Human Nature

“I Know That I Know Nothing”– Socrates I am 6 months away from 25. It’s been three years since I’ve graduated, and one year into my world travels- It’s been a hectic half (almost) a decade.         Living on the road hastened my metamorphosis into “adulthood.”  Moving to a new physical and cultural environment every 2-6 months […]

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I Know That I Know Nothing”– Socrates

I am 6 months away from 25. It’s been three years since I’ve graduated, and one year into my world travels- It’s been a hectic half (almost) a decade.        

Living on the road hastened my metamorphosis into “adulthood.”  Moving to a new physical and cultural environment every 2-6 months forces my mind and body to adapt faster than it wants to…. But that’s a good thing. 

2020, started with a one-way ticket to Japan, then to evade lockdown, to the turquoise waters of Honolulu, then to the center of the silk road- Istanbul, and will have me ending the year in the bohemian streets of Belgrade, Serbia. 

The lessons I have learned have been unsettling, nonetheless, valuable and entertaining.  

Let’s dive deeper. 

Be Empathetic- Human Nature Is The Same 

Contrary to popular belief, people are not that different.  Their culture, customs, beliefs, language, Ad Infinitum are- but human nature is not. Wherever you go in the world, you will find the same story plot, the same traumas, the same conflicts, the same villains and heroes because people ultimately want similar possessions and lifestyles.   

Most adults want to commit to an activity that excites them, a person who loves them, lifelong friends who care about them (Okinawans call this Moais), a roof over their head, food in their stomachs, warmth during the winter, and coolness during the summer… Ad Infinitum. 

The Okinawans call this, “Ikigai.”

The Nicoyans call this, “Plan De Vida.” 

The Americans call this, “Finding Your Passion.”

Different book covers, similar writing- there are several reasons to have empathy for your neighbors, including the fact we are all living through lockdowns, quarantines, and pandemic rules.

We are each a spoke in the wheel of life- you aren’t so different than me, and I’m not so different than you. 

Everybody Is Ignorant (Not Stupid)- Deal With It

Remember, I did not say stupid… I said, ignorant. People have their biases, judgements, and preconceived notions- our brains tend to be overconfident about their assumptions. 

We all live in the ambiguity of our assumptions. 

Our ideas are not necessarily fact-based. Our opinions are not necessarily correct. And our thoughts tend to be skewed- But that’s okay. Whenever you speak with someone, keep this lesson in the back of your mind… it will help suppress your anger and your assist you in maintaining your self-control. 

For example, every place I travel to, people don’t believe I am American. Many individuals think you cannot be East Asian (or Asian looking) and be from New York City. Even Japanese people don’t believe I am from NYC… and I am genetically part Okinawan. 

I laugh now. 

Someone Is Always Working Harder.

Hard work is the baseline for satisfaction, but it’s not something that necessarily merits being lionized.  My grandma would say the bookends of “A well trained dog is a happy dog” and “Idle hands do the devil’s work.” 

Hard work is not enough. You have probably heard the saying, no matter how hard you work, there’s always someone, somewhere working harder than you.

(Traveling the world has proven this statement true.)

You can step foot in any foreign land and find families in 3rd world countries who are living on pennies, ambitious young adults searching for gold in 1st world cities, and small-town folk who are working 14-hour days to uplift their communities.

I Know That I Know Nothing

From my selective podcast interviews, to speaking with new acquaintances, to “networking” with the local grocery store managers and traveling over 15,000 miles across two hemispheres… one truth is crystal clear.

You know what you know, you know what you don’t know, but you don’t know what you don’t know.

After glancing around, I realized everyone I met is fighting a hard battle- I learn something new… every single day. 

For example, regardless of age, skin tone, complexion, or personality, many individuals are plagued with the same illness- lack of self-awareness. And regardless of where you live, a lack of self-awareness affects everybody the same way.

Or, take today’s society- we are “lonely” after being trapped in a psychological and biological gulag, called COVID-19. 

After traveling solo for nearly a year, I’ve learned a lot about the battles people are fighting but the more I learn, the more I realize how little I actually know. 

And even if we are each characters in the same story plot. 

I acknowledge, I know that I know nothing.

Final Thoughts

From turning down full-time jobs in Cyber Security to pursuing martial arts full-time, writing a book, teaching English in Tokyo, and now circumnavigating the globe while still living the #everydayporrada lifestyle- I’ve learned a thing, or two, about human nature. 

My lessons are based on my experience, so that does not make them facts of life.  But, if you compare my lessons to other peoples’ learning moments, you might start noticing a trend.

Walk your path and make your mistakes but don’t forget previous travelers and the broader population have stumbled and picked themselves up- so go pave your path but remember to learn from their mistakes.

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