Few months ago – Beirut, Lebanon. I’m at this rooftop BBQ party, talking to a girl I’ve just met. I’m Czech, she’s Canadian and so we are talking about how cool it is that we both somehow randomly appeared in this Middle Eastern city. We talk about how we both love to travel and share our best traveling stories, the type of talk you usually have with strangers you meet on the road. We talk about how awesome it is that we can travel and see the world. And she talks about how important it is to travel and to be “wordly” and then she says could never spend time with someone who doesn’t travel. Or to be friends with someone who doesn’t have the experience of living abroad.
“The people who are not like us, you and me, you know. I need to be around my kind of people.”
“Well, I don’t.” Trust me, I wanted to say yes, agree and be the guy she wanted me to be. Talking to a pretty girl, that’s kind of the thing you feel like doing. But instead I just realized, in that very moment, that I don’t need other people to be like me.
I don’t need people around me to be “wordly,” to be experienced and enthusiastic travelers.
And I recalled a friend of mine from my college rugby team who said that he couldn’t be friends with someone who’s fat and that all his friends have to be athletic. And although I love sports just as much as I love to travel, I realized that I don’t need my friends to be athletic either. And that none of those things that are important to me matter when I meet someone else.
What I’m trying to say here with my story is that people judge others based on what’s important for themselves. They tend to identify themselves based on just one thing – if they’re good at sports, if they speak foreign languages, if they’re rich or if they’re poor, if they went to the right school or if they have the right job. And if the people they meet fulfill that characteristic then it’s ok – if not, they have zero intention of trying to get to know them better.
The thing is, people are different. They believe in different things, they care about different stuff and they have different values And they might be in a completely different phase of their lives at the time you meet and heading in different directions – and you have no idea where they started from and how they got there. And that’s ok – because I don’t need to be around the same people like me, I don’t need others to have the same values and interests.
All I really care about is if they’re good people. If they spread good vibes, if they have a positive attitude to life and if there’s something that makes want to talk to them. Even though they might be as different from me as possible.
Plus, if you only keep exactly the same people around you it’s not going to push you anywhere. They’re not going to inspire you, present with new mindsets and ways how to think about the world around you. It’s just going to keep you isolated in your own bubble, made out of people who are same as you – who think the same way as you do and who keep reassuring each other about their own opinions, since they don’t get confronted with anything else.
I feel like too many people today do that. They live in their own small circles, scared to open up at least a little bit and look over the borders of their closed-up worlds. Not willing to listen to what the other people have to say and missing a huge chance to learn something new by that.
I don’t want to end up like that. And I don’t want to be defined by just one thing – because I am not just one thing.
I don’t want to be an athlete or a traveler or a businessman, an artist or a party animal. I want to be, and I think I am, all those things and million others. As cliché as it might sound, I don’t want to be limited by labels. So no, I don’t care about what you do, where you live and what you believe in, I don’t need to know that to decide if I want to talk to you or not. I care about you being a good person. Because in the end – that’s all that matters.