Sometimes when traveling, you get to be anonymous and become a stranger among strangers. But strangers can become your friends, lovers, heroes, or inspiration.
Although I was born in a generation where women are much more privileged than in the past, as a woman, I did have moments that made me realize the struggles many people still have when fighting for their rights. As a child I never had to question equality. Luckily, my family always pushed all their children to do their best and always pursue their dreams. But undoubtedly, there are women all over the world that still need to fight for fundamental human rights such as education.
As a solo woman traveller, I often confronted people’s questions on my decision to travel, live, or work independently. But I think that traveling by myself gave me a different perception of certain situations, places, and people that I encountered.
During my travels, I would often meet ordinary people with extraordinary qualities. They helped me realize that no matter what, you should never give up and always try your best to achieve your dreams.
Two of these people were two great women that I believe deserve my praise.
In my early twenties, I participated in a few international workcamps that usually consist of ten to fifteen volunteers. I remember at my first workcamp, I was excited about sharing an unusual and fantastic experience with other people from different parts of the world.
But what I was not expecting was a married lady in her early-forties to be one of the volunteers. I found it quite unusual for a married woman to travel alone and participate in such a project. Apparently, her husband had some business in the country, and instead of staying with him, she decided to volunteer. And if you ask me, that was badass. As I grew up in a more conservative environment, it was uncommon to see married women leave their husbands to have some fun on their own. Indeed, today, that is not the case, but when I was a child, that’s how things worked.
Interestingly, I got close to this badass woman. My parents had me quite late, and I have siblings who are much older than me. So, I regularly feel confident and comfortable in opening discussions with my seniors. I remember her always giving me advice, and I was often surprised by her broad knowledge. In the end, she ended up being a happy surprise for me.
Years later, I happen to visit her home country and city while on a solo trip. After getting in touch with her, she introduced me to one of the most famous attractions in her town and took me to a cozy teahouse. While discussing with her, I got to know that after our first meeting, she, unfortunately, went through tough years, but she is now better and happier. When we met, she was married and unemployed with her sole job to take care of her family. But currently, after a painful divorce, she is working again. She is, in fact, pursuing her dream to be a successful designer. Furthermore, she now has a new lover. And with her children, they are enjoying the wonders of traveling life.
When I saw her talking about her new job, new boyfriend, and her children, I could see how sincerely happy she was. Her eyes were twinkling with glee. I could feel her joy, and that made our meeting even more meaningful and enjoyable. Sometimes change can only bring prosperity rather than adversities.
Another incredible woman that I met was a lady in her mid-fifties. I met her through university, where after long years of hard work, she had finally decided to accomplish her dreams by getting a bachelor’s degree.
I frequently got to discuss with her about several topics, from world politics to science to household affairs. While talking, I got to know her better and realize how amazingly strong she is. She was born during stressful times, and her harsh childhood led to an unhappy marriage at a young age. Nonetheless, she did her best for her family. Later, her marriage ended. But instead of breaking down, she went on to work hard for her children, learn new skills, find a new lover with whom she travelled the world, and now she is on the road to take her degree.
Whenever I would meet her, I always loved listening to her stories. Also, I always loved how she regarded me as her equal, even though I could easily be her daughter. This amazing woman not only did she taught me about never giving up on my dreams, but she also taught me respect and resilience. A truly remarkable person.
Meeting these two ladies made me realize how many people in this world are still fighting for their rights, goals, and dreams. Sometimes we are often too cooped up within our tiny world and cannot see beyond today. Instead of dueling with your mind and heart for what-ifs, start thinking of when, and do it. It’s never too late.
I never lose. I either win or learn.Nelson Mandela