I am an experienced Organizational Development Consultant who studied psychology my entire life (well before I left my career and my dissertation to take this around the world trip). Given my background, I know that the personality you are born with doesn’t change much throughout your life. However, your life experiences and your career can have a slight effect on your personality as you adjust to fit your role. For example, if you’re an introvert and your job is sales you can certainly excel at your job but once you’re home you need that alone time to get your energy back after you exhausted it interacting with people all day.
I’ve always been an extrovert but I think this life changing experience is pushing me more and more toward introversion. Just one of the many ways this year has changed me. I still get my energy from other people, as all extroverts do but I am becoming more and more content spending time quietly and almost alone (my partner who is attached to me 24/7).
Yes, you are in each country to emerge yourself and meet the locals, which we do a fair share of. However, you are not doing that all the time when you are traveling full-time. You’re living in a country where you’re a guest, an outsider, or a bule as Indonesians like to say, or gaijin in Japanese, or gringo as Argentine call us. You’re in their land: watching them, eating their cuisine, taking in THEIR life. You are and always will be a guest no matter how many times you visit the same land or how long you stay. I know all this and I am humble to have the opportunity to be a guest, watch, eat and stimulate the local economy in return. I’ve become comfortable with being uncomfortable. I listen more and never speak loudly in public places, which all Russians and Americans can honestly benefit from.
I don’t usually start conversations anymore, just smile wide hoping that once a conversation sparks, my approacher will forgive me for not speaking his or her language and butchering a greeting in a beautiful, local language.
The other day I went to an museum all by myself marveling at latin artists’ works of art. I spoke to no one. I quietly walked through calm and rainy Buenos Aires. As I entered, I calmly wandered from one painting to the next resting my soul and engaging my mind. Then, I stepped outside, took a deep breath of Argentine, rainy air and started my walk back. I talked to no one.
I am more introverted now.