I used to consider myself a highly cultured person. And then I woke up. I call this my moment of truth. Prior to said moment, I thought my meager attempts at understanding other cultures made me interesting and wise. And then, one day, I woke up. It was in this moment that I realized the world wasn't a minuscule adventure to be conquered. It wasn't meant to have its countries collected like trinkets in a pawn shop, left only to collect dust due to neglect. It was then, on the verge of my cultural enlightenment, that I found my imposter status. I realized that in order for me to become fully cultured, as I truly, desperately wished, it was up to me, not only to familiarize myself with other, alternate realities, worlds and cultures. But rather than discarding them the moment they have been added to my collection, I must learn to love these worlds and realize in some deep and distant recess of my mind that they are not so different from my own. And that is where I've learned that being cultured doesn't make me interesting or mysterious. It only makes me more compassionate, understanding and willing to discover more.
I don't know when I wrote this, sometime during high school, and never meant to share it with the world. When I came across it the other day, though, I immediately wanted to share it here. It's funny because I felt this way before I had traveled that much and now, my feelings are not all that different. There is a level of introspection here that surprises me and I am surprised that I feel the same today. It's a great reminder from my former self to always be processing all that I am learning, to act with respect, that travel is more than an experience--it's an education.