I am a very different traveler than Taylor. Taylor thrives in structure and planing while I feel that you should allow life to come to you. The times when I was paired with Taylor left me feeling as though she had to try and shoulder this enormous burden of organizing and coordinating everyone. After talking with Taylor, I learned that keeping track of everyone is not a burden to get at all. Instead, having a plan is a relief.
After our conversation, I noticed how much Taylor relied on having a plan, later that day. I was thriving as we walked around the field that used to be home to Circus Maximus, the largest stadium in the Roman Empire, while Taylor was not. We were free to wander where we pleased and there was no cohesive decision and the lack of direction caused Taylor to start to panic.
Taylor’s panic really challenged my original perception of attacking a situation. For a long time I have been a big believer in learning from life experiences. Getting lost teaches you to how to ask for help and use your resources. Missing a train teaches you how to think on your feet and be reactive. The more problems you encounter, the easier they are to deal with in the future. You now can draw on past experience to resolve a problem. However, Taylor takes a completely different approach: she is incredibly proactive. When we spoke, she explained that by being prepared for the worst possible situation. She feels comforted knowing that no matter what life throws at her she can be prepared.
I believe that in making interpersonal relationships work it is important to be willing to meet in the middle. If we did everything Taylor’s way, I would be left incredibly dissatisfied because I won’t have been given any space to explore. On the other hand, Taylor would freak out if we did things my way and wandered aimlessly. Instead, we have to seek out a balance that satisfies both of us in order to draw the most from the experience.
Sacrifice doesn’t apply only to making plans for a group. The first night in Rome, Lauren and I did the unthinkable: we had a civil conversation about politics in 2019. In order to have this conversation, we had to sacrifice our own comfort to be willing to have our opinions challenged. As we sat on the Spanish Steps, Lauren brought up points that challenged my political beliefs from intellectual, moral, and spiritual perspectives. As a result, I grew greatly because of it. Both of us suppressed the drive to impose our own opinion on the other person and listened deeply to what the had to say. Neither one of us were experts on any of these issues, but we both tried to share the reasons why we believed what we did. I applaud Lauren for being so willing to put herself out there and talk about touchy subjects with a great consideration of other’s opinions.
In the end, Lauren and I disagreed on a majority of issues, but we were both able to grow out of the experience. We sacrificed our prides to establish a forum where ideas could be shared and questioned freely without leaving with hurt feelings.
Sometimes some people have to sacrifice more than others. On the second to last night of CR, Kynnedi asked a series of “why” questions that lead to me re-examining why I make certain decisions. I learned so much about myself and my motivations thanks to Kynnedi. Her selflessness drove the whole conversation forward and allowed me to discover why I tend to water down what I say out of a fear of rejection.
I am still stunned at how naturally listening and asking heartfelt questions came to Kynnedi. As someone who wants to talk all of the time, it was amazing to meet someone who is an All-star listener. I’m sure that there were times when she really wanted to talk, but she was willing to sacrifice her own opportunities to share about herself to learn more about what makes another person tick.
Of all that we learned and say in Rome, what Rome taught me is that above all else, getting close to someone requires self-sacrifice.