|No dreams allowed?|
(Image from Fibonnaci,
I don't have a lot of patience for people who criticize the dreams of others to begin with - after all, dreams are personal and usually have nothing to do with the person disparaging them - but it can be especially frustrating when the person who wants to tell you why you're nuts is someone you care about. When someone I meet in passing thinks I'm crazy for wanting to visit Rwanda, Thailand or Antarctica, it's easy to shrug it off, smile and say "to each her own." But when people I love are adamant that I shouldn't travel to certain places, or that I shouldn't travel alone so much, it hurts on multiple levels: that they don't think I can keep myself safe, that they're more concerned about their own preconceptions about a region than they are about my desire to connect with the people and the history there, and that they're so set on talking me out of going that they won't let me share my excitement about the possibilities ahead of me.
|Alone in a new city (Prague) - and loving it!|
Be happy for me.
It's even more frustrating when the criticism comes from people who love to travel themselves and are no strangers to venturing off the beaten path. I'd love to hear about their experiences in places similar to the ones I want to visit and compare notes on the best seasons to go, great local guides and foods or activities not to be missed, but instead I'm treated to a lengthy monologue about why I should avoid certain countries, cities or even entire regions of the world. I'm left to conclude that they don't think I deserve the same right to choose my own path that they've enjoyed, that they think I'm incapable of taking care of myself or that they think because I often travel solo, I'd be better off staying home.
Arguments about travel don't benefit anyone, so my new plan is this: I'm still happy to talk to anyone who will listen about my travel plans, but I'm keeping a mental list of people who really don't want to hear about my plans to venture off the beaten path (or even to explore slightly-less-well-trod sections of it). That way, I'll remember who's more interested in telling me why I shouldn't go than in being excited about my travels, and I can steer any travel-related conversation to areas and activities I know they're comfortable with. I'm happy to hear recommendations for great reefs to snorkel or dive, challenging hikes to take and beautiful beaches to explore, and I certainly don't mind someone expressing concern for me once in a while, but I'm not interested in being told repeatedly why I shouldn't go to a particular country or in having my dreams excoriated - especially by people who aren't really interested in hearing about them anyway.
So from now on, I'll be focusing on planning my adventures, sharing them with the people I care about who want to hear about them and avoiding the headache - on both sides - of arguing about specific pieces of my plans with those who don't. Knowing that list of people is necessary hurts, but it will help keep things less frustrating for everyone, and will let me keep my eye on the ball rather than being distracted by arguments that leave everyone involved distressed. And knowing that the people not on that list support my dreams - and sometimes share them! - and will be happy to get a postcard saying I'm having a great time, no matter where it's from, never fails to make me smile.
What are your tricks for dealing with people who argue with your dreams?