Camden - Image by C.M.Riordan, 2008
Camden – Image by C.M.Riordan, 2008

When traveling, I put in quite a bit of effort trying to pass by unnoticed like a local. I’ve never liked the tourist moniker. It often implies stupidity, gullibility, and straight up in the way. I want to fit in, look like I know where I’m going, and feel at home. I’ll never really achieve it. It’s a challenge handling the local look while trying to take it all in. Locals tend to forget to look up and smile at the beauty of the everyday around them. Tourists can’t help it.

Even though it is a losing battle, I still try. Maybe it harkens back to my high school acting. It’s fun playing pretend. You observe the outstanding characteristics of the locals and emulate, not with your outward appearance, with you body and mindset. A quicker walk, friendly smile (or no smiles), looking like you’ve all of life on your mind and a destination to get to. It’s about having purpose. (Or looking like you do).

I believe that we are all many faceted creatures. To different people and situations, we show different parts of ourselves. Trying to blend in where you don’t belong requires you to dig deep and wear some part of yourself that mimics the locale as close as possible. In Camden, I hardly wore the right clothes, hair, or piercings, but I found that rebel part of my soul and embracing it gave me a foundation in that brilliant, alternative world. I understood the need to wear my colors outside of my body; to make a statement about who I was by not looking the “norm”. Embracing that fearless, creative, alternative energy force didn’t change my personality, values, or ideals. Same old me but confident that I belonged. By trying to see the world through locals eyes, I learned more about my own soul. In Camden, it’s not about looking different from everyone else or straying from and idealized norm. It’s about celebrating yourself as an individual. Taking that creative force inside you and wearing it for all to see. It’s honest.

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