Young Women Everywhere: Don’t Be Afraid to Travel

Young Women Everywhere: Don’t Be Afraid to Travel

"We learn from exposure not withdrawal"

I planned to write to you later this month, but the results of the election multiplied my sense of urgency. I am baffled, I am scared, and I am ashamed of what this country has brought upon itself. After walking away from the TV when the results reached the point of inevitability, I sat outside and had an intense period of introspection, to decide whether to stay or to go: College ends soon for me, and being young and unattached puts me in a good position to leave the country without many negative consequences. After I listened to crickets chirp for God knows how long, I made a decision.

I know beyond doubt that there is more to gain from exposure than from withdrawal, that if we listen to people everywhere, we discover striking similarities to our own histories. Now more than ever, we who believe in the value of diversity, who know there is beauty in connection, and who have the curiosity to keep learning about others, have to prepare ourselves for the upcoming years. We need to combat the isolationism and the fear of the anonymous ‘other’ that has taken center stage. I will always remember your Editor’s Letter and how it validated my instinct to travel in the face of fear and the attempts at dissuasion.

As a girl especially, it’s been impossible for me to mention my desire to travel anywhere—be it to the opposite end of the world or two hours from home—without being cut off with sermonic shrieks of “But haven’t you seen Taken?” (I honestly will never forgive Pierre Morel or Liam Neeson for that movie and the trouble it has caused young female travelers everywhere.)

Despite having only seen a fraction of this world, what I have seen was magnificent and awe inspiring, not a breeding ground for fear. This isn’t something that is usually demonstrable to others set in their fearful ways, unless I forcibly pull them by their belt loops out of their cave and into the light, and gesturing to the world, shout: “Do you see what you’ve been afraid of?” Some have adjusted their eyes to the light, and others yell and run back to a comfortable darkness. Either way, I want to say thank you for making a statement on this heavily relevant issue, and on behalf of all girls who travel despite citations from Taken, Taken 2, or Taken 3, our plans to see the rest of this complicated world will not be derailed.

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