Alexy Irving: The Traveling Sheep

 “Travel makes you modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” Gustave Flaubert.

Coming home from Turkey after a week of being in a completely new world was life-changing. It made me realize how small my previous world really was and how much there is out here for me to take in.

When you can catch a ride and land in a place you’ve never been, it sets you back and makes you modest. Whereas you once truly believed that you had learned everything there is to life, you realize, you know nothing.

Back home, you speak American. You worry about American issues and only American issues. You listen to your favorite American artist back-to-back on the radio. You are American and everybody should be aware of your clout.

Wrong. Granted, a few Turkish people did know a lot about Obama, Trump and Hillary… Everywhere else, it was straight-up Turkish.

I knew absolutely no Turkish when I arrived which was quite the dilemma considering that not a lot of people in Turkey speak English. I had to rely on others to show me around and speak. When you're surrounded by humans and not able to use your voice to communicate, it makes you feel helpless.

I had to put my trust in others and hope they didn’t steer me wrong. My trust fell into a Nigerian woman my age, who kept me safe and introduced me to this new world. I made other friends, also of African descent, who treated me like family after knowing me for less then 24 hours. These people fed me, showed me around, and really made me feel safe in a place that had already shown signs of dissatisfaction upon my arrival.

When you're seen as different by others you draw a different kind of attention. Sometimes you're called ‘Beautiful (Guzel)’, or asked to touch your hair and you're given positive qualities like being soft as sheep’s wool. But there are also negatives parts to this kind of attention like when they know you're American and America has had such a rough history with other countries. Or when you receive stares because Black people are such a rarity abroad. 

It frightens you because you’re still seen as different both inside and outside of America.

There’s so much more out here than what you hear, see and interact with on a daily basis. Each of these negative and positive experiences made me aware of what I could really accomplish if I let it come into fruition and not let my surroundings dictate what I could and would become.

It helps you understand that there’s so much out there that’s just an idea away. There’s a whole world out there, and its waiting for you to learn from it. Because I was able to navigate a new world with different reactions to my existence, I know I’m able to navigate this one I live in with ease.

To see more images from Alexy's trip to Turkey follow her on Instagram @ WhereNextLex