The Proud Traveler

          Washington DC

I feel as if I have read so many different versions of Date/Don’t Date a girl who travels.  I agree with those versions entitled “Date a Girl who travels”.  It seems to me the several articles entitled “Don’t Date a Girl who travels” takes a narrow-minded approach to women probably without meaning to.  The ideas laid out in the articles speak about a woman with unkempt hair, who will be bored by others who have regular responsibilities.  They go further and speak about how women who like to travel will not be able to keep a full-time job or a relationship.  I’m sure the author might not have meant for the reader to take the article literally word for word but at the same time I feel as if it has a narrow-minded and a possibly naïve connotation.  My problem lies just as much with the view of women who travel as it does the portrayal of those who don’t.  Just because a woman travels does not mean she can’t settle down in a major city, have quality relationships, or is somehow better than others.  Just as those who don’t travel are not necessarily close-minded, boring, or frivolous people who waste money on material items.  The main point is traveling doesn’t make people automatically better or more conscientious, while a person who chooses not to travel doesn’t automatically make them close-minded or less concerned about the world in which they live.

            In my life, I have had the ability to travel which I am extremely grateful for but others are not so lucky.  I grew up in a household that encouraged me to learn about other cultures and to branch out and be friends with everyone.  My grandma would always be going somewhere when I was a child and would always bring me back something.  She taught me about geography, cultural dress, and that the food in Thailand was usually too spicy for her.  It was with this background that begun my love for travel so much that I began to travel abroad at 14 years old.  My experiences through travel will never be complete because the world is a big place and I will never have enough time or money to go everywhere I’d like.

In my years of traveling, I have done the silliest touristy things like taking pictures in front of White Castle and I am not ashamed to admit that.  I have also conquered obstacles and had truly once-in-a lifetime experiences.  These are some of my memorable accomplishments: I have cooked dinner with a Native American tribe in Arizona; I have served some of the poorest, sickest individuals in the Dominican Republic; I have climbed the pyramids in Mexico with a broken toe; managed to rappel down a snowy cliff in New Zealand; braved the climb to the top of the Sydney Harbor Bridge; went wandering around the streets of London just because I felt like it; spent two days in Europe for the most part without any human contact; impressed a German professor so much that I received a perfect grade in his class which is virtually unheard of in German university classes; spent the time to speak to a student from Cairo who had been in the midst of the Egyptian revolution; met one of my best friends on a Midwest baseball trip; got soaking wet while trying to get to the Smithsonian Museum; and took a cruise to Alaska where I really started to understand the beauty of the world we live in.

 This list could go on and on but my point is that I travel because I love it.  Traveling is an ongoing experience that can never be fully understood by another person.  You learn about yourself and the world around you in ways you never imagined before.  A great sense of pride, self-accomplishment, and self-awareness is developed through traveling.  Everyone has their own stories to tell and I encourage you to tell your own stories and to listen when someone wants to tell their story to you.

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Adventure

As most people would know I love to have adventures. My adventures range from trying out a new restaurant to studying abroad in a foreign country which I didn’t know the language for a semester. For me stagnation is very scary and not something I take lightly.

Growing up in a smaller community as a child can be a very comforting thing. This goes not only for the child but for the parents as well. I knew a lot of people who were at my school and in the community as a whole. I was involved in several activities and made use of the opportunities the smaller community provided me with. As I have gotten older I have realized the downsides of living in a smaller community. A lot of people I know have managed to stay here without thinking much about it. When I go out around town I notice they fall into a couple different categories. A majority drink too much and/or take drugs, others are tied into the community because of a traditional family and don’t have career aspirations, then there are those young individuals like myself that left and came back. The later group I believe can be the best off one if we take opportunities to venture out. We can get out of the community because we have seen what else is out there.

My plan is to go somewhere and make something out of myself.  I am not the kind of person who can idly sit by and wait for things to happen.  I need adventure in my life and the only way to obtain that is by jumping outside of your comfort zone.  Do something you never thought possible, travel to somewhere you never thought about before, try a new type of food that you are nervous about.  I know this has become a very overused quote but if your dream don’t scare you then they aren’t big enough.  My dream scare me to death sometimes but in the end I’m excited.  When you’re young get out there and do something! You don’t want to life your life talking about what could have been.

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Friendship

There is a common saying that blood is thicker than water.  This meaning that our familial relationships are much more important than our friendships because those are the only ones that will truly stand up to the test of time.   I am truly lucky to have a very supportive family who I know will be there for me no matter what, but I don’t believe everyone has that.  It is not a matter of the type of relationship you have with some one but the strength of the bond you have.  Just because you are blood does not mean you have a familial-tight bond with someone.  This type of bond can come as a result of years of friendship going through ups and downs with one another.

All this being said, I have some wonderful friendships that I am truly grateful for.  Without my friends I wouldn’t have managed through college and especially my semester abroad.  It was these people who had my back and who were always there to make sure I was happy, secure and safe.  Friends can know you the best because they have a tendency to be able to judge less and travel with us on our journey through maturation.  So the moral of this story is to not discount friends.  Be there when they need you to be.  You never know when you might need their support.

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Greek Membership

I think most people would agree that there is a certain stereotype in regards to Greek life as a whole in the United States.  I mean I can’t deny that the media portrays Greeks in a certain way and not necessarily in the way in which most Greeks would want to be portrayed.  This has a huge impact on the preconceptions the world has about Greek organizations and members of those organizations.  Shows like Greek and movies such as Animal House do nothing to help the United States Greek community.  However, a tendency is to blame the media for all the stereotypes that exist about Greek membership.  You can’t just say that a movie or show is going to completely be the reason why certain College students have a negative view of Greek Life.

What I am trying to say is that I know for a fact that different Greek organizations on difference campuses work to keep this stereotype alive.  Most of us know this stereotype; that Greeks are promiscuous, alcoholics, unintelligent, and purely social creatures.  Some Greeks like to complain about how sororities and fraternities are being portrayed in this negative stereotypical life but the truth is that we perpetrate the stereotypes.  For example fraternities holding parties where they judge at the door who is pretty enough to be let in, sororities who sit out on the balcony of their chapter house to suntan when all the freshman move in, and finally in recruitment.  Yes in recruitment, some of the biggest stereotypes are perpetuated.  During formal recruitment we give the girls a list of things they should wear to come to our houses, and then are in this competition over who has the most socials.  Since when did sororities who are supposed to empower young women to be better women; who are leaders in their communities let the self worth of an entire organization be based on the opinions of one group of men.

However, I have never regretted my decision to become a member of my sorority.  In fact it is one of the best decisions I have made during my college experience.  What others fail to see is the true benefits that come along with membership in a Greek Organization.  There are the typical things such as formals, socials, philanthropies with other fraternities, fundraisers, and chapter retreats.  However, there is also what you don’t see.  I have been to plenty of leadership development conferences, forums on specific issues that face college students and many more.  I have truly been moved by the kindness that my sisters have shown me and have grown as a person.  I am certainly not the same person I entered college as, I am a more social, confident, and strong person because I joined my sorority.

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Relationship Deal Breakers

So we all have deal breakers when it comes to relationships, some are pretty common like not doing drugs while others are not so common like only dating someone whose blonde.  I think it’s necessary to form these deal breakers before dating someone so you know before hand what you won’t put up with.  This way you won’t be wasting someones time.  I know I have deal breakers while my other friends have some different ones.  So I decided to create a list, so if you have one of these you might think twice about it.

  1. Drugs
  2. Not having goals
  3. Lack of an education
  4. Smoking
  5. Someone who can’t laugh at themselves
  6. WOW
  7. Playing video games instead of hanging out with other people
  8. Arrogance
  9. Being Disrespectful
  10. Forgetting to shower
  11. Not looking nice, no you don’t need to be metro but please care about what you look like
  12. If your shoes are kept up
  13. You must try to keep in shape
  14. They can’t hold their own in a group of people.  You have to babysit them in social situations.
  15. Being tied to a cell phone especially texting and talking on it at dinner
  16. Dishonesty
  17. If an ideal party is always getting drunk
  18. Guys who can’t compliment
  19. Guys who don’t keep up their cars, throw away trash etc.
  20. When they have a temper
  21. Not being of a certain religion
  22. Laziness
  23. Being in the military
  24. Not wanting kids
  25. Not liking dogs

It seems as if there are a lot, but believe me these aren’t all one persons deal breakers.  Also understand that what one might really want in the opposite sex is a deal breaker for someone else.  Its all about knowing what you want and don’t want in a relationship.  I believe that as time progresses and as you get older you will understand what you want more and more.  Maybe at the age of 18, you don’t want to get married or have children.  But by 24 you might decide that those things are for you.  Don’t ever be afraid to meet new people, they will challenge your thoughts and beliefs and can help aid you on your journey on finding who you really are.

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When do you know you like someone…

So this title might seem a little strange, I mean usually someone knows if they like another person.  But I’m talking about how to figure out if you like someone enough to date them.  What questions should you ask yourself before making that decision? Its a difficult decision sometimes, I mean if the person is random then it doesn’t really matter as much if you screw things up.  But what if there are more than just the two of you in the situation.  If it will affect other people then you need to stand back and really see all the aspects before coming to a conclusion that could affect several people.

I won’t pretend like I know everything there is to know about dating and relationship because I don’t.  What I do know is that dating and relationships are never easy and a lot of factors can get in the way of a couples happiness.  But how do you really know how you feel about someone else?  You can come up with a reasonable idea of what you feel but without asking yourself some very specific and almost difficult questions you can’t seem to be on your way to figuring out how you truly feel.  So these are a few of the questions I usually present to myself and to my friends when in a difficult position.

  1. Can I be myself around this person?
  2. Will I grow within this relationship?
  3. Do they always make me smile?
  4. Do I have fun with this person?
  5. Could I see myself holding hands/kissing this person?
  6. When this person calls am I really happy and smiling a lot?
  7. Would I mind talking to this person everyday?
  8. Is it difficult to leave when I’m hanging out with them?
  9. Am I thinking of what we could do in the future?
  10. Do I agree with where this person is academically? professionally?
  11. Can I stand his/her friends?
  12. What makes him/her different for others?
  13. What makes me attracted to him/her? Physical? Personality?
  14. Will I still feel this happy in a couple months?
  15. Are we planning on being in the same geographical area?
  16. What bothers you about the other person?
  17. Am I ready to date?
  18. Am I too busy to be able to date?
  19. What are my hopes/expectations for dating this person? What are their hopes/expectations?
  20. Finally, can I do what it takes to make the other person happy in our relationship?

There are many more potential questions, but these are just a few that start to get someone thinking.  If you just want to casually date someone then maybe these aren’t necessary.  But if you expect to date someone with the intention of possibly getting into a relationship then these questions are a must.  The most important thing to do when determining whether  or not to date someone is to be true to yourself.  Do not let others tell you what to do or who to go out with.  Determine what your feelings are and go with it.  If you determine you really like the person that’s great! Date them and see what happens.  If you decide that you don’t like them in that way, that’s okay too, don’t let your fear of hurting them change your mind.  Because in the end if you enter into something you don’t want to be a part of, you will just end up hurting them more in the end.  Just move past it and make sure to let them know that you don’t feel the same way, the sooner you do it, the sooner that person can move on.

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Jackie of All Trades

Stubbornness and determination are two adjectives that I would used to describe myself. They provide me with the strength to kept going even against life’s diversities.  Even from when I was little I knew what I wanted and went for it.  If I prepared enough and was determined enough I usually got what I wanted.  I have been so lucky in my life, I have experienced so many places, so many types of food, different person, I could go on and on.

I mean to make a short list out of it; I have traveled to about 10 different countries, played soccer, softball, volleyball, did two types of dance, tried drawing/painting, scrapbooking, knitting, sewing, jewelry making, participating in Mock Trial, Girl Scouts, NHS, CSF, as well as organized a carnival for Uganda.

Socially I was a member and officer of several different clubs, was the mascot my senior year, and went to college and joined a sorority.  I have a varying group of friends from all different backgrounds and ages.  I guess I just love getting to know lots of people.

However, in life it is usually not the person who can do a lot of things that will succeed but the person who can do one thing very well.  It is difficult for me to figure out what I want to do because I truly enjoy so many different activities and different groups of people.  So when people ask me what I plan on doing, I have to give them what they want to hear (which is something that I am too good at sometimes).  But I would say that what I want is to be me, to be educated, happy, and working toward fulfilling my full potential.  In time and maturity I will find what makes me happy and what I am meant to do.  Some may say I have a gift for psychology and you know what I wouldn’t disagree.  Its all about me finding the way I want to use that gift for the betterment of those around me.

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