Last updated on June 20, 2012
So there I am, 16 years old, hiding in the hotel bathroom while sobbing on the phone and spilling my teenage woes to my dad.
And that’s when he hit me with my favorite advice from him:
“Shannon, it’s just money. It’s not worth you being in a miserable situation, I’ll buy you a ticket and you can come home tonight.”
My dad isn’t one of those pageant parents, so when I told him I wanted to travel out of the state for an Irish dance competition (the Southern Regionals – I had to go!) he promptly collaborated with one of the dancer’s guardians so that I could tag along with them – girly dance competitions are not his scene at all but it was fine for me to go chaperoned.
Well, the only problem with this situation. The other dancer was a righteous bitch who hated my guts and sadly, I didn’t know that before we left.
Fast forward a bit and she has now spent the past two days of the competition making my life terrible – alternately name calling and articulating extreme hatred for me whenever her grandmother wasn’t around. Then she openly laughed at me when my hard shoe just happened to fly off of my foot and land in front of the judges…
…ok, so maybe that last one was funny, but she laughed at me maliciously, and there is a difference.
What I Learned from Him
Anyway, jump back to me on the scrunched up and perched on top of the closed toilet seat in the bathroom of our hotel and contemplating my dad’s offer to come home no matter what the expense.
That’s actually all I needed, the reassurance that I could leave if I need to, that I wasn’t stuck without a choice due to unfortunate circumstances (me being underage and all). I ended up staying for the last few days. And my shoe flew off again (damn that buckle), but my dad’s advice stuck.
His Advice and My RTW Trip
See, I make my RTW backpacking sound like roses and flowers all of the time, but backpacking on a budget was a real brutality at times. There were the marathon 24 hour bus rides, attempting sleep on rickety trains (vomiting on said trains), sweaty hikes uphill in search of an incredibly elusive hostel, and bribing people w/money to get out of unfortunate circumstances. And though it was often these same experiences that made my best stories (and I actually kind of love when a few things go wrong and I get an awesome “holy cow can you believe I survived that” story out of it) I always knew that, at the end of the day, I probably wasn’t truly stuck.
There’s an out. Ok, yes, paying $150 for a hotel rather than the planned $20 hostel sucks, but at the end of the day, my dad’s advice held true– there’s probably an out and you’re just not seeing it. And particularly if it’s just money; if that’s all its going to take to make your life suck a whole lot less, then sometimes it’s just worth it.
And the money thing is only one aspect to it – my dad’s advice altered my point of view (even at the awesomely angsty age of 16).
What it taught me was that we normally do have an “out” from situations even when they seem hopeless. There is something that can be done if we are open to looking for it, some other solution or perspective we haven’t yet seen.
Now, when I’m on the road and something is going wrong on my travels, I really try to take a moment and assess how I’m perceiving the situation versus the reality of what I can actually do to change it. Perception versus reality; I’m still working on recognizing the difference, and when I can, my traveling woes aren’t quite so bad.
Have you ever had these type of situations on your travels…when you just didn’t think there was a solution?