Updated: Mar 5
When I travel, I often encounter people that I don't necessarily mesh with.
We all do.
Anyone who's read my blog, has had the opportunity to journey along with these particularly odd individuals, right beside me. Because my blog is public, I have, of course, been cautioned about my words. In my defence, when I document character and/or chose to ridicule or vilify, I either do so when I am removed from this particular person or situation... or I work to ensure the person is unaware of my blog. I refrain from advertising my website until I can be absolutely confident that I am writing almost anonymously. I also usually change names, to protect the innocent... and me.
Yes, there have been moments I've messed up due to negligence or indifference, but hopefully I learn from my mistakes. I would imagine professional journalists have been well trained in the art of dodging defamation. Circuitous writing can be powerful, as long as you don't hone in on anyone with any finger-pointing slander.
Speaking of circuitous... remember my last blog and the lady I mentioned came up to Moshi to meet me?
Let's call her, 'Blog Day.'
*Reference explanation to follow...
As an older volunteer, living in a house full of millenials, (or yobbos, as she prefers to refer to them as) she had been feeling quite isolated, invisible and excluded. There had been a time I too felt the dismal effects of communal living and dormitory life, so I invited her to join me. I empathized with her situation and figured she could benefit from a little rejuvenating get-a-way.
Throughout the weekend, she filled me full of stories of how nasty and ageist the new crew was at the house. She fed me tales of turmoil, disrespect, arrogance and much, much drama. I ate it all up. Honestly, I really had zero desire to return to Sawa Sawa. It sounded dreadful... and enough to make me seriously reconsider my prior commitment. I had no idea what I was walking into, but from what I could gather, it sounded like a nightmare.
Although we had not been particularly close during my original time in Arusha, Blog Day had given everyone the inaccurate impression that I was her bestie.
I knew she was eager for my return, but I wasn't quite prepared for the guns-a-blazin' assignment I was being expected to accomplish.
As I entered the Sawa Sawa gates, I was hesitant of every single step I took that brought me closer to the house. Blog Day walked along beside me, almost ecstatic that she'd brought in reinforcements.
Unfortunately she had gambled all her chips on my unwavering allegiance to her, almost expecting me to waltz right in and draw the line. Instead, I sat down and started chatting. I had stories to tell! A gorilla had grabbed me and people needed to know. I don't think I was there more than 5 minutes, when I realized what a wonderful group of kids surrounded me.
They weren't idiots. At all.
They were remarkable.
All of them.
Fun. Thoughtful. Respectful. Smart.
Really enjoyable company.
Essentially she's painted all these volunteers with the same lousy brush... and presented them all in a hideously shocking manner to anyone that is reading about her travels.
Blog Day was clearly not impressed and completely stopped talking to me soon after. A few times, I tried to initiate conversation, but by then, I'd seen right through her and I could no longer be bothered with her games. She was jealous. Seething with jealousy.
It did take a few days for the other side of the story to finally reach me, but when it did... Wow!! ... I was gobsmacked.
This woman... sorry... this JOURNALIST wrote a scathing PUBLIC blog about these kids. Amongst other colourful phrases, she outright called them dickheads and boozehounds.
Who does that?
Actually... who does that while STILL LIVING with the so-called dickheads and boozehounds?
She berated their age, their mentality, their noises, their habits, their pastimes, their friendships... and then she wondered why she felt excluded in their company. To add insult to injury, she made a caustic Instagram post and then wrote an equally harsh Part 2. In the most insensitive manner, she completely disregarded their feelings, yet proceeded to berate them all for making her feel isolated. She did mention her surprise that they chose to shoot the person holding up the mirror of truth in front of them, as opposed to seriously reconsidering their own behaviour.
I found this rich, considering she had ample opportunities to self reflect... and did not.
Once the ball started rolling and the yarn began to untangle, so much more came to light. I discovered Blog Day had not only reproached Perfect Vision, but also ME!!! She had been venomously vocal about my involvement with my placement... and instead of working as a part of a team, she'd managed to turn women's empowerment into a competition, appointing herself the unequivocal winner.
The sad part... her indisputable narcissism was merely a victim mentality. I read that people who display these characteristics have often suffered some trauma. Her husband did pass away last year, so this does make sense. But... as someone who is trying to rediscover herself and her own capabilities, there are healthier ways to cope.
Grasping for constant control and attention is not one of them.
Blog Day made a priority of praising herself to anyone that would listen and openly took credit where credit was definitely not due. The post she made was nothing short of appalling and became the main focus of frustration, animosity and conversation around Sawa Sawa.
Blog Day did eventually move out, citing the damage of precious egos as the main contributing factor. After accepting that she had completely burnt her bridges with everyone under the age of 30 (and over, if you include me), her second blog post concentrated on three P's and one of them being Preciousness... referring to everyone's fragile character.
It was unfortunate this was all done for the sake of attention.
The manipulation. The deceipt. The badmouthing. The slander.
There were so many incidents and so much built up resentment... but we all have to move past it. She hurt a lot of people. Through the torment, I decided that the best course of action would be to put together my very own list of the necessary P's of traveling.
I think it's a good reminder/guide for everyone, including myself.
I saw a lot of very bad behaviour in Blog Day... and some of it, alarmingly familiar. I didn't like it. At all. She brought on all of this herself... and her careless selfish actions & words resulted in isolation and exclusion. Everything could have been much, much different...
I do hope she heals... but man, I hope she repents...
The ImPortant P's of Solo Travel
We're all different ages and we're all from different backgrounds, but everyone has to remember that we all signed up for this and we're all in it together. I think when you're traveling, especially when you're traveling solo, it's imperative to practice a little bit more patience. Roll with the punches, try to be more tolerant and a little bit more gracious. At times it's tough, but in the long run, it will work out in your favour. Guaranteed.
**Don't be Pretentious ~ We are all here for the same reason. No one is better than the other. Regardless of age or experience, one can always learn something... from anyone.
Be a Peacekeeper
This doesn't mean you have to be anyone's mother or guardian, but do your best not to initiate drama. Be a friend first. It's natural to appreciate a little bit of gossip every now and then, but when you're actually pinpointed for being a malicious meddler, it's time to bow out.
**Don't Prattle - If you spend your days talking smack about everyone, everyone is eventually going to get together and compare notes.
Being social doesn't JUST mean being social when you've got the spotlight. Conversation is give & take. If you expect people to sit around and listen to YOUR stories, give them the respect they deserve in turn and listen to THEIRS. If you're no longer interested, fake it until you make it. It's noticeable and horrendously rude when someone picks up their book or their phone and proceeds to tune everyone out. Be Present!
**Don't be Patronizing ~ everyone knows when they're being spoken down to.
If you don't actually 'bring anything to the table,' then make sure you Praise those that do contribute significantly. Don't take credit for what others have done and don't go out of your way to squash dreams & ideas because you want all of the control. Have Principles - be fair!
Be a Pillar of Support
We all want to support each other and we all do, for the most part. Remember that if you expect others to come to the play that you single-handedly did NOT put together, then try to be more of a team member when being asked to participate in another program. For example... if there's a cooking class, go and support it... regardless of whether or not that's the day you need to write your blog.
Allow for some Precious
Remember everyone is a little precious. Feelings get hurt, including yours. Some of these people are away from home for the first time.
Put Yourself in Another's Place
We all have shit going on in our lives. Not just you. We can't all act the victim.
Some people will go out of their way to boost your confidence. They take fun, flattering pictures of you. They give you beautiful dresses. They lend you books and download movies for you to watch. They invite you away for the weekend. They buy you wine. They help you out with crappy money swap situations. They support you in your creative endeavours. Don't be a dick. Be kind to those people.
And the big one...
**Don't Plait your Hair - it looks stupid.