Structural Me in an Unstructured Environment with Unstructured People (Introvert In Unknown Territories)

Featured

Traveling to My Friends

I flew back after my trip to Africa to visit some friends. My older sister and I traveled together until we reached London and then the next two flights I was by myself. This was scary but not as terrible as my worries had made it. 

I got bumped up a class because of a bad experience on the previous flight. This was very helpful. However, I still did not get much sleep. This was coupled with a jet lag of eight hours. Needless to say, I showed up at my friend’s house and slept for a while. It took nearly a week to switch back. Jet lag made me wake up at 3 or 4 am and my friends stayed up quite late. So, I ended up losing sleep on both ends. This caused me to take naps around the time when I would have gone to sleep in Africa and not switch back easily. 

Who are my Friends?

I do not enjoy traveling by myself. So, why did I choose to visit these friends? I met them at a camp I have been going to since I was born. This August was the first time that I met all seven of the guys. I became friends with the younger ones and they invited me to visit. Normally, I wouldn’t take them up on it. However, these guys are intriguing and for some reason I really like them. They are all good and decent men who are not always easy to find and I enjoy their company. 

Structure vs No Structure and How it Pushed Me

Now, one thing that drives me crazy is their lack of structure as a group and some individuals. I am a very structured individual. I schedule things well in advance and there is rarely a time when I do not have a plan. This was one of those times. In my month of living outside of my bubble, I knew that I would not be able to plan and schedule my time with my friends. They got with the immediate, they choose what they are going to do at the moment that it is presented to them. This can be very frustrating to me when I am trying to plan. So, in order to deal with this issue I foresaw, I decided not to fight it and try things their way. 

What I learned

One of the big reasons that I need structure is for efficiency. Would I have liked to do more things and see people more? Yes, I actually did. (which is part of the reason I like hanging out with them: they don’t exhaust me like everyone else) I was able to “go with the flow” for a week and do whatever because I had no deadlines or need for efficiency. That is why I was able to live unstructured for a week. 

Group Dynamic and Lack of Structure

When there is a group of unstructured individuals. It can be very difficult to gauge what will happen. I always want to know what to expect. This is something that I struggle with. I tend to put myself in situations where there are fewer variables to contend with so that I am able to know all of the various possible outcomes. 

The guys make decisions like a group of boys do. It takes forever and then it just happens. I was unable to control the situations. So, instead of frustrating myself and trying to get some control, I took the opposite approach. I gave up complete control and became a part of the group. This was odd for me because I have always been the one who goes against the group and hates the hive mentality. The reason that I was able to do this is that I trust and appreciate this group. 

Why Structure?

Structure helps me to succeed and accomplish. I am all about efficiency, even in relationships. It is calming and it helps me to learn and control my environment. I am a driven individual and I can also procrastinate quite a lot. I build structure into my life in order to achieve my, many, lofty goals. Even as a child, I was analytical and liked the structure. If there was a plan and my parents deviated from it. I would get upset because it had already been solidified in my mind. So, with this trip, I planned to be unplanned. Therefore my expectations were still met. This has taught me how to form a workaround to deal with my analytical structured nature when I have to interact in an unstructured environment and people who are “go with the flow.” 

Do you need structure? What does control mean to you? How do you deal with an unstructured environment? How do you relate to efficiency? 

Please feel free to email me any questions, stories, themes, or ideas I am grateful for all your contributions.

Email me at evilholmess@gmail.com

Give me a follow on Instagram @evi.l.holmes 

Follow me on twitter @RealEvilHolmes

-Evi. L. Holmes

Introvert in Africa (An Introvert in Unknown Territories)

My sisters and I landed in Zambia. My parents were waiting there for us. After our long trip, I was glad to be away from all the people in the massive airports that I had gone through to get to Livingstone. But, with anything, there are trade-offs. 

My parents, younger sister, and I went to Zambia for three weeks back in 2009. It was much different back then because I was much more outgoing because I did not care what anyone thought and as a child, you can get away with that. Since then, I have spent much more time on my own and I have found that I very much enjoy it. Therefore, I was concerned with the terrible amount of new people that I was going to come across in this journey. 

I had met a few people on the compound ten years ago but a lot changes in ten years. I was excited to see some of the people that I had met back in 2009. When we went on that trip, I spent a lot of time in the garden with the gardener. When I met him again in 2019, he was a lot shorter than I remember but I have grown significantly in the last 10 years. 

I met many missionaries while I was there and some of the medical students (since it is a teaching hospital). As daughters of the head doctor, the other missionaries and Africans wanted to meet all of us. We went to visit so many people that I lost count. I was always tired after these visits but it was well worth it. The fortunate thing was I had plenty of time to read and relax. 

I also spent more time with many family than I had in a long time. I had only spent a week or so with them at a time for the last few years. I spent a while with my mom and my sisters in the house playing games and trying to beat the December heat. That was more on me than meeting all of the other people, except for church. I was around them so much that even when I was reading there was something going on with them. I love my family but it was a lot at times. 

The most uncomfortable part of the whole trip was going to church. This had nothing to do with the service or religion but more to do with people and culture. Zambian culture is very extroverted. Everyone is excited to see everyone else and there is a lot of excitement all the time. They had me and my sisters stand up and introduce ourselves to the church. This. Was. Terrifying. I hated it. But, I got through that part. Then we were leaving the church and everyone started to line up and shake each other’s hands in a line. Everyone shook everyone else’s hand in the whole church. I was supremely uncomfortable. But, I got through it, again. This happened not once but twice because we went to two different churches. I was anxious throughout the whole thing and just wanted to flee.

I had to stay because it would have been supremely disrespectful to leave and I had nowhere to go on my own. As an introvert in an extroverted culture, I was exhausted and terrified for much of the time for my time in Zambia. But, I survived and I learned that even though I may feel exhausted and scared, growing experiences are necessary. I got to visit my family and see the world through a little bit of a different lens for a while. 

I have many more specific stories and stories about our tourist visit to the city. We went on a safari, white water rafting, and to Victoria Falls. If this is something you would be interested in hearing about, let me know in the comments below and I will do an extra post or two outside of my normal schedule. 

Please feel free to email me any questions, stories, themes, or ideas I am grateful for all your contributions.

Email me at evilholmess@gmail.com

Give me a follow on Instagram @evi.l.holmes 

Follow me on twitter @RealEvilHolmes

-Evi. L. Holmes

Traveling With My Sisters (An Introvert in Unknown Territories)

“I Read; I Travel; I Become” – Derick Walcott

Most of my traveling starts and ends between the covers and endpaper of my favorite books. However, there are times when it is necessary to move this corporeal body to a different location. And what does this mean? Airports. 

I have been fortunate enough to have traveled to three different continents, eleven countries, and 29 states. These trips have been beneficial as I think about writing and what I now know of the world. So, although I enjoy the comfort of my own how, I see the value of travel and enjoy where I am when I get there.

Leaving New York

My grandparents drove us to the airport early in the morning and dropped us off. We did the normal waiting in lines, getting our tickets and giving our luggage, waiting in lines, going through security, finding our gate, waiting in lines, and then, finally, boarding the giant plain. Once we were on the plane we figured we would be off within the hour. However, this was not to be the case. There was ice on the plane and a false negative in one of the door locks so we sat on the tarmac for two and a half hours before we finally took off for our 14-hour flight. 

I was getting worried at this point because our layover in South Africa was only three hours. We figured we would make up time in the air but it proved not to be enough. We landed in South Africa and as we were waiting to get off the plane we knew that the chances of our getting on the next flight were slimmer and slimmer. Once we had gotten off of the plane we had to get on a bus when we asked the lady in charge and showed her our ticket she told us we should have been on the bus that had just left. So, we got on the next one. When we reached the airport a man with a walky-talky had us run through the whole airport to try to get on the flight. We had almost run through the whole airport when we were told that the flight had left. 

A Night in the South Africa Airport

As you can guess, there was no other flight to Livingstone that day. So, we were stuck in the airport for 24 hours. We got a room in the airport hotel and they gave us meal vouchers. This was helpful because we could get showers and work on switching to African time. We ate at the same restaurant for the next three meals and had to go through security every time we wished to eat. But, the beds were comfortable and the food wasn’t bad. 

Arrival: My Parents Waving Through the Open Gate

The next day we got on our plane. It was a short flight that had been the separation between us and Zambia. We were at the very back of the plane since we had been added late and there were 24 empty seats behind us. This was not a popular flight. 

We landed in Livingstone and went to get our visa. We were at the end of the line. By the time we got to the conveyor belt all of our bags were off the belt and sitting on the floor. We picked up our bags and put them on a trolley. Then we went to the gate and saw our parents waiting there for us. They had seen our plane land and cross the tarmac. It was lovely to see them but I was completely exhausted from all of the travel and the airports. 

Airports and People

I love watching people and observing them but I do not like crowds. It is interesting though, I enjoy airports when I have other people as a buffer. My sisters were there with me and I could get them to do most of the talking because they are extroverts. Until they decided to have me talk to the guy at the desk and ask him a question we had already asked and I knew the answer to. This is where there are conflicts and stress for an introvert such as myself. 

I do, however, enjoy imagining who people are, where they are from, and why they might be in the South African airport. Overall the travel on the way to Zambia was much less “introvert exhausting” than I had worried it would be prior to my travels. This step outside of my comfort zone was well worth it and showed me that all I really need is a travel companion. 

Where Else to Get Material for Stories and Observe People than in the Real World?

I have always found humans intriguing, that is part of why psychology and personality types are so interesting to me. I love to observe how family units interact, how couples argue, and how strangers become friends. I cannot do this within my own head and that is where the real world comes into play. 

As a writer, it is wonderful to take a moment outside of my head and see new sights, smell new smells, taste new food, and meet new people, no matter how exhausting it may be. I use everything I see as material for my stories and people in my life get roles in the theatre of my mind that spills onto the page. 

Where would you like to travel in the world? What world would you go to if you could jump into a novel? What is your favorite place in the world?

Please feel free to email me any questions, stories, themes, or ideas I am grateful for all your contributions.

Email me at evilholmess@gmail.com

Give me a follow on Instagram @evi.l.holmes 

Follow me on twitter @RealEvilHolmes

-Evi. L. Holmes