When is the last time your read something like this: “it was such a cool moment to be surrounded by all kinds of like minded people, experiencing the same thing”? Maybe a concert? Coachella? Seeing the little DVD thing touch the corner of the TV finally?
I bet they didn’t say it while traveling. Actually I guarantee that instead they said something like this:
“the crowds were CrAzY. Avoid them!”
“Ugh, so tired of this tourist location.”
“Wake up at 2:30 am on Christmas morning to avoid all the people and get the perfect shot :)”
“Wow skip this, too many people there, not worth it”
This is a common sentiment among travelers, but the more I think about it, the weirder it seems.
I recently had a conversation with someone who was told to avoid one of the seven wonders of the world because it was crowded.
I want you to read that last sentence again.
I also read a post recently where someone advocated going to famous landmarks in Europe at night while it’s pouring rain in order to get some good pictures of you by yourself with those monuments.
I mean what’s better than taking a vacation and waiting for miserable weather to snap pictures of myself in front of things with no one else present? Then caption those pictures with things like: Travel is the only thing that makes you richer, Live laugh love. Etc.
I’m sorry, now I’m just getting sassy.
But heck, I’ve made comments. I’ve been annoyed, maybe not in such extreme ways but definitely put off by being around large groups of people. And I get it! Crowds are exhausting and even stressful depending on your personality.
However sometimes I think it’s not that the people are annoying for existing, it’s that they’re annoying and disrupting the picture perfect moment we *think we will have*
In some way, I think it has to do with our expectations, and ultimately our egos.
See, when we are in a crowd, we forget we are actually part of the crowd not just floating around it like some kind of Instagram ghost. (And side note, if you genuinely experience anxiety by being in big groups, I don’t mean this towards you). BUT, if you’re just casually frustrated by being in places with other humans, I want you to question why?
Think of how you feel to be in the busy place. Think of what it means to you and why you’re annoyed.
Is it because you have been dreaming of this moment for 10 years and you didn’t dream of hoards of other people there?
Is it that you’re overwhelmed because something you thought you were doing that was special and unique is actually something a lot of people do?
Is it because the people are being disrespectful?
Is it because you can’t copy that insta photo you have been dreaming of? Or get the perfect shot?
None of these answers mean you’re a bad person or traveler just really think about it.
Okay, now here’s something to think about the next time you complain about people in your photos, or are dealing with busy places or bustling crowds at the site you thought was deserted because someone either photoshopped it, used a special angle, or woke up at 5 am like a psycho on their vacay to make you think that was the normal state of the location..
You are sharing this experience, in this wild and rare place with people all over the world. THE FREAKIN WORLD. YOUR ARE ON THE EARTH WITH THESE PEOPLE.
AKA the only place we know of that other people live.
When you are in a crowd, you are in more than just a “crowd”, you are in a group that is made up of individuals. Human beings with all these unique perspectives and you are not only making a dream come true BUT witnessing dreams come true before your very eyes.
Childhood memories are forming, family vacations are happening, anniversaries and honeymoons and those once in a lifetime dreams that people didn’t think would ever happen are coming true.
Those people in the background aren’t nuisances, they’re people.
And GUESS WHAT?! You’re someone in the background for someone else!
Now I know what you’re going to say:
”ThE pEoPlE are annoying, they only care about TaKiNg PiCtuReS, they’re being too LoUd, etc. etc. etc.
Well, to that I would ask, what are you doing?
Staring out at the place and sketching it like Leonardo DaVinci? Writing a song about it? Calmly and quietly standing off the side of the crowd with tears of joy streaming down your face???
Chances are...: probably not.
You are probably giddy with excitement, laughing with friends, and taking pictures or videos, hopefully you are engaged and living in the moment and doing your best to capture it your memory.
Here is my point, maybe more than anything the people who are traveling at the same time as us are reminders we aren’t the only ones in the world. And that’s important in a current society that convinces us that we are.
I get why crowds can be harmful, and I especially get it when I see tourists dropping trash and wrecking beautiful places I love or truly being obnoxious. BUT I don’t see that nearly as much as I experience just getting irritated by the general existence of other people. I bet if you’re honest, you would have to agree.
Here is what I’m going to try to do the next time I’m annoyed by crowds, and maybe you can try it to.
I’m gonna view people as part of the site. The smiles, the selfies, the teary eyed dreamers and annoying moms and even the influencer trying to get the perfect pose. It’s not a distraction from that beautiful beach or city, it’s a piece of it.
And I’m gonna enjoy the fact that I’m not alone in this world, and neither is anyone else. Whether they like it or not.
The world is a connected place, we can try to hide our favorite spots in the corners of this planet but there are no corners because the world is a globe. And honestly, I don’t really know what that metaphor means lmao.
But I do know this, we are lucky to live in a time where we are elbow to elbow with other people who don’t want to hide their heads in the sand from the rest of the world due to fear or something else.
So if that means I never get a photo by myself in front of the Eiffel Tower someday, then so be it.
Because at the end of the day, there may not be a way to avoid crowds, and that’s okay.