Vulnerability: There are many times that I’ve felt vulnerable in my life, the awkward years in middle school, the even more awkward years in high school, the uncomfortableness of getting to know people at college in a town where you know no one. Basically I didn’t think I would ever feel comfortable with being vulnerable. However, this all changed when I began traveling.
Ever since I was little I remember my mom telling me about all the great experiences she had traveling in high school and college, but I don’t think I understood how much it takes emotionally to travel around a place that’s different than what you’re used to. In my opinion one needs to be vulnerable, otherwise they won’t be open to experiencing everything that a new place has to over and therefore defeating the purpose of traveling as whole. It took three weeks in foreign country for me to truly understand this.
When it changed: My impression of vulnerability was completely negative until I took my first big trip to Germany. I was 16, it was my first time leaving the country, I wouldn’t be with my family, I was going to be there for 3 weeks, playing soccer with 20 other girls that didn’t speak English, and staying with a host family that didn’t speak English (I didn’t speak German then and even now only know about ten words).
Me being an awkward 16 year old from Wisconsin had no idea what I what I was getting into and could feel the walls of my emotions and personality going up as I stepped onto the plane. However, quickly after my arrival I noticed that I gained more out of the experience, the culture, and the language if I allowed myself to feel vulnerable. There’s nothing scarier than that. Truly letting yourself feel vulnerable in a country where you’ve never been, where you don’t know the language, and you don’t know a single person allows you to quickly gain so much more than you would have otherwise.
Without allowing myself to be vulnerable, the trip would have simply been a soccer trip while staying with a family I didn’t talk to. However, because of my openness to experience and vulnerability this trip inspired a anticipated lifetime of traveling. Eventually throughout the three weeks I got to know my teammates better than I ever could have imagined, and fell in love with my host family and still continue contact with them today.
Moving Forward: The lessons that I learned on that trip has influence the way i approach new people and new cultures. Throughout various traveling around the world I have able to experience countries in a way that’s different than most people do. These lessons also carry over into meeting new people as vulnerability creates a stronger connection.