It is interesting to me to see how our society is divided into classes. From our earliest days as children we are categorized, “the girly girl,” “the nerd,” “the rich kid.” For some reason we are compelled to cleanly fit into separate categories that give us, and others, a point of reference as to who we are. Maybe that stems from early evolution where you were either a “hunter” or a “gatherer.” I thought I could escape labels when I travelled. I would no longer be “the engineer” or “the Air Force girl.” However, I found labels still persist. You are classified into subcategories as “the backpacker,” the “digital nomad,” the person taking a “gap year.” When you come back home from travelling you are simply known as “the traveller.” Can one classification sum up a person? For me, I’ve never been so easily labeled. I’ve tried my best to fit into various groups, but for many reasons I am not simply categorized.
Now that I am back in the U.S., the one category I feel most at home with is the ambiguous “traveller.”
I travel for many reasons, reasons I thought were unique to me: to gain mental clarity and find myself, to find peace, to feel awe, and most importantly to seek adventure. Turns out that I am not unique in any of these motivations. I was surprised that given all of the labels floating around, so many of the travelers I’ve met DO fit into one simple category, and that is simply summed up as: the seekers. I’ve met people from all over the world, of age group, every ethnicity and sexual orientation and they all are traveling for reasons very similar to my own.
Merriam-Webster defines tribe as: “Any aggregate of people united by ties of descent from a common ancestor, community of customs and traditions, adherence to the same leaders, etc.”
Tribes use to be geographically based. The thing about travelling is that geography does not matter anymore. Our community of customs is the incessant desire to experience and to grow. I have met people that are amazing and I happily welcome them into my close circle of friends that I call “my tribe.” The attributes and traditions that make up the people in my tribe are: the consistent desire to seek truth, beauty, and knowledge.
Travelling does not mean you have your shit together. I used to think that all of these badass people had found the meaning to life and were sublimely gliding from country to country. What I have found is the opposite. They are like me, messed up, broken and trying to figure it out. I have been lucky to see their fear, their struggle and it has given me strength in my own journey. Community is not based on spatial relation anymore.
At the end of the day we all belong to one beautiful category, and that is humanity.
For all of our different cultures, languages and habits, we are all similar underneath. Traveling has taught me that no matter the outward appearances, we all are beautiful humans, in this world together struggling to find meaning, community, and connection.