Inspirational Lifestyle Social Justice & Human Rights

Another Privileged White Girl Travels the World to Find Herself

I began this journey like most wanderers, driven by an insatiable appetite for adventure. I suppose it is the same fuel which pollutes my brain with fantasy. A fairytale in which, risk is the elixir for happiness, and the higher the dose, the more fulfilled I become.

This journey has gifted me with hundreds of dynamic days concluding with the sun’s most magical trick in 50 countries on 6 continents. The colorful refracting light off mountain peaks, valleys, rivers, lakes, and cityscapes have been seared into my memory like uniquely crafted bookends to each day. 

In between these captivating bookends, there have been collections of short stories exchanged in countless accents, a staggering tally of belly-aching laughs and salty tears, moonlit kisses and “I love yous,” generous sips of tingly liquids, wild animal sightings that jolted my heart, breaths of recycled air from tree species I can’t pronounce, breaststrokes in every temperature of water, and bruised bones from heavy baggage carried across shifting terrains.

None of what’s made it on the shelf, is more profound than the sunsets though. Each with the power to bring me to my knees and force acknowledgement of overwhelming truths. The palette rich in subtle pastels and vibrant neons, carries the faces of those who are voiceless.

The faces of women and children I’ve met, who wake each day with the sole goal to survive. Unafflicted by wanderlust, and instead burdened by hunger, oppression, misogyny, disease, and corruption. They have become the dark colors that haunt me in my most vulnerable moments of doubt. Their tales of tyranny and triumph are etched into my heart and projected onto the sky as ominous clouds and refracting light.

The sky also tells my own story. The lone child of diametrically opposed parents, born on a military base in Germany to citizens of the United States. That happenstance granted me basic human rights, freedom from persecution based on my religious beliefs, and the ability to travel the world with ease due to my blue passport. 

My mother’s military career, comprised of long work weeks and sacrifices, granted me a college education and a debt-free beginning to adulthood. The pigment of my skin also grants me extra justice in the eyes of the law of my country, and the language I soaked up effortlessly in my youth, offers me job opportunities I did little to earn.

Happenstance also brought me a childhood freckled by trauma, but unscathed by tragedy. Then a decade of adulthood, which evolved into a familiar rhythm of constant movement. An inexplicable gravitational pull towards unexplored territory, failed but worthwhile romances, and the intensity of the wilderness.

As a child of the military, my zip code changed every 6-12 months. Leaving an unmixed concoction of myself that needs to be stirred every so often. A recipe that requires new ingredients be sprinkled in periodically, to avoid staleness. This instability has become my trademark, I patented it with my blog and my brand “Spin the Globe Project.” I recite it as my inner monologue analyzes the days that turned into years untethered by geography.

I’ve had mail sent to 16 addresses in the last decade, and more often, had nowhere to receive mail at all. This life has become a constant crossroad of navigating uncharted territory, or turning back to a well-established path. My story begins and constantly diverges here in the alluring beauty of the unknown.

Love is another pillar of my story. I’m drawn to it like a moth to a flame, but paralyzed by the fear of its burn. I’ve found romance in and of itself, a luxury for those unburdened by profound hardship. In my own story, romantic escapades have become the footnotes of a larger saga of love. A deep craving for connectedness, transcendence, and peace. I’ve found myself a student of its mysticism, misunderstood by centuries of victims, and philosophized by history’s greatest minds. I’ve experimented with its tantalizing forms, and consumed doses small and large, only to come out the other side a skeptical romantic.

Then there is the call of the wild, less complex and more natural than the siren call of the open road, a full passport, and romantic rendezvous. This call beckons from the very core of me, louder than other recognizable desires. I have found the much sought-after themes of connectedness, transcendence, and peace, beyond city lights and car horns. It is there, amongst the trees, on the shore of a lake or a stream, that I feel alive. The fresh air awakens my senses and I can swallow life’s hard lessons.

Just before dusk each day, I brim with gratitude for my privilege, and empathize with those born of different circumstances. For those who live their lives in fear of their government, persecuted because of the icons in the building they worship in, and oppressed by gender and cultural norms. I watch as colors of rage paint the sky embodying those unaware of their privilege, and fester in frustration because I no longer live with delusions of grandeur about my ability to change reality for those on either side.

Then blackness cloaks the sky and my thoughts are swallowed by twilight. I am calmed by the realization that the imminent daylight will ground me until the colorful strokes of truth, and gentle rays of hope come with the setting sun.

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Anna French

Anna is an optimist with pessimistic tendencies who enjoys making a short story long, her coffee black, and watching Friends re-runs. These days you can catch her in her natural habitats wandering through forest roads in her van or hiking to a waterfall.

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