I have this thing about what others think of me. I’m just going to be straight up honest here. I thought it was gone, that I was over it, if that’s possible in any way. But now that I am travelling, I notice I’m not.
Almost all of my life I didn’t know any better: stepping into a bus or train compartment and feeling super conscious of myself. As if the opinions and thoughts of others were to leave a permanent mark on my forehead. Although this happened without me actually thinking too much about it, that’s how deep it sat within me.
Every single moment like a singing contest on television, in which judges have to turn their chairs in order to show their appreciation – or at least you hope they do. And no, of course I do not want to be liked by everyone in this world. I assure you. In fact, I couldn’t care less about what others think of me.
This insecurity, because that’s what it is in the end, slipped away from me the last couple of years. I also noticed this insecurity consists of different levels, regarding the amount of ‘not giving a rat’s ass’ about what people think of me. And I got better at it over time. Getting older is not that bad after all. Besides, I know just too many people who struggle with the same to not feel embarrassed about it. I’m not the only one.
Travelling has changed that. In some places I am more self aware than ever – and I walk on eggshells. Like here in Morocco. As I write this, we’ve just been here for a week. A new country means getting used to new things all over again. I think back of Portugal and how we arrived there in the beginning of November. We didn’t know anything. Now part of me secretly longs back to the places there, as if it were my second homeland.
Morocco is different
Morocco is so very different. Not just another European country with open borders, but a strict customs inspection after leaving the boat from Spain instead. Having a drone is not allowed and thus we had to hand ours right over. With some neat filled out forms in return, so we can pick it up again when we leave Morocco and take the boat back to Spain. Later on we even found out it’s forbidden to import beer.
It’s also a country on which relatives would send us somewhat worries messages. Whether we’d be careful with driving (sure we do, but do know people in Spain and Portugal also drive like crazy) to advising me to cover my shoulders being a woman. (Believe me, down here it’s also wintertime and it’s not all that warm all of the time.) Oh and let’s not forget about the political fuss about Moroccan people in Europe. I have seen enough of the world to not hold any prejudices, but truth must be told: Morocco is different.
So now I walk the streets super conscious again, thinking too much about how I should behave. Not too showy? And how do I act together with Jeroen? Is walking hand in hand okay? Because I do not want to be needlessly repugnant with the people here. After all, I’m a guest. And a woman. And white too. And Dutch. Also, what would they be thinking here about all those right wing politicians with their crazy exclamations? And again my mind’s working overtime, creating scenarios that could maybe play out – or not.
It is quite tiring and to be honest I’m all done with it now.
Moreover, it does not make any sense. Considering everything, it’s not even THAT different here as opposed to Spain or Portugal. Not nature, because here in the north there are some beautiful green hills to be found. Not the food, because here they also love fish and legumes and lots of spices. Not the roads, with vendors along them showing their crates with potatoes and bags with brightly coloured oranges. Not the people, because even though they have their own customs, they enjoy a greeting or a kind words as much as anyone else. Not the language, because almost everyone speaks French which I happen to speak a thousand times better than Spanish and Portuguese together. Not the place where they come together on their holy day, because the mosques in all these tiny villages are easily to be confused with cute churches. Not the authorities, for all customs officers and police officers that we have seen are nice and sometimes even laugh when we drive past.
So yeah, just stop doing that already, thinking about you think others think you should behave. It’s good for nothing and we’re not even that different from each other after all.
This article has previously been published in Dutch on 365dagensuccesvol.nl