If you live in the middle of nowhere it’s easy to feel isolated from the world. You don’t learn things city kids do. Then your dad leaves home and it gets even worse. You don’t have a male role model to teach you lessons every boy ought to know.
The lessons won’t come from the pages of books. You already decided reading was a waste of time years ago. Suddenly, you find yourself journeying across Africa where everything changes. Here are a few crucial things you’ll discover about life.
1. You’re a Foreigner
It doesn’t matter how many friends you make. You can wear fancy costumes and dance around a fire at night. You’ll always be a foreigner no matter how hard you try. You can feel the same in your own country too.
Once you leave everything you know behind you’re forced to change. You have to adapt to your surroundings to survive. After you learn how to do this on a consistent basis your life will become a hundred times easier.
2. Patience is Crucial
We all know that time is finite, but it’s not why we’re always in a rush. Everyone moves around quickly because it’s a habit we’ve grown used to. When you’re standing in the sun for hours waiting for a bus it will hurt.
Your head will start spinning at 1,000 miles per second. After a while, you give in and it feels great. If you had more patience you could have felt this way years ago. Slow down in the future and you won’t regret it.
3. Problems Don’t Exist
A problem is something that existed in the past. Now you’re in the present and there are only solutions. If your car is broken get it fixed and continue on your journey. When your sink breaks repair it straight away.
When you let problems enter your mind you’ll be filled with worry. To release the tension you’ll probably complain about it. Nobody cares what you have to say. Come up with a solution and get on with your life.
4. Listen to Your Body
To be fair, people do listen to their body when they’re feeling sick. When it comes to food it’s an entirely different story. What will you do if a certain type of food doesn’t sit well with you? Eventually, you’ll eat it again.
You can’t do that in Africa, especially when you have to spend hours on cramped buses. You’ll learn to avoid ugali and injera within days. At home, it might take you decades to realize wheat and dairy don’t agree with you.
5. People Are Great
Wait until you sit down beside a poor Sudanese man who shares his plate of food with you. An Ethiopian family will provide you with shelter because you look desperate even though you’re a complete stranger.
Lots of people tend to look down their noses at people who are poor. They don’t even give them a chance. There are great people who don’t have a penny to their name. Accept them and it will restore your faith in humanity.
6. The Beautiful Outdoors
Africa has lots of wonderful campsites, which is strange for a country full of wild animals. There are also lots of magical places off the beaten path. When you spend time underneath the stars it makes you reevaluate your life.
Ironically, one of the things you realize is how much time you spend indoors. It’s not good for you and I think everyone knows it. We just can’t build up the motivation to improve our health by going outside.
Try to Change Your Surroundings
You don’t need to visit Africa to learn important life lessons. I think you’ll be able to do it by changing your surroundings, even if it’s only for a while. When you’re stuck inside a bubble it’s impossible to see out of it.
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Photo: Getty Images