While on the road I asked a fellow tourist whether they were from Germany seconds after meeting them. They were surprised and how did I know? Personally, have about 80% chance of getting it right. This is mostly because I have have been working in a hotel/hostel for past 2 years and I with every new guest I have been trying to guess their nationality, so I got good. Either that or because every second person here is from Germany.
Still, that person told me that they rather not look like German. Easily said, people want to blend it. But why is that?
I guess the most intuitive reason why people don’t want to stand out is because of security reasons. Security, especially on the road, is a very important factor, and standing out means that you become an easy target for people who looking to explore vulnerability. This can be pickpockets, vendors that raise prices as soon as they see that you are a tourist, or just people who unconsciously “attack” when they “smell weakness”.
This last part of “smelling weakness” is a bit of a metaphor that I learned from a book by Cesar Millan in his book Cesar’s Way, where he says that there is a certain power dynamic inside every dog pack, which also accurate to every human relationship. People take power and give power all the time, and intuitively we all want to have more power because we subconsciously know that it gives us certain advantages. Therefore, we take power when we can. Practically, when we “smell weakness” this is a time to take power, and we almost automatically act on it, so we attack. For tourists, this means that last thing you want to be perceived is as weak. While most people on the road will never harm you and will even help you, there are always these rare occasions where something can happen. This is why girls are commonly suggested to travel with other people. This is why people say to always look after your belongings. This is why you want to be perceived as strong as possible as often as you can. Or at least that is how I think about it.
Moreover, we want to blend it because we want to avoid certain labels and stereotypes. For example, a very bad stereotype for Germans is being called Nazi. For these people who don’t know anyone from Germany of have not been to that country, I can tell you that Nazis don’t exist for a long long time and that extreme views exist in almost every culture and nationality. This is to say that most Germans that I know are very nice and friendly people. But, some people will make associations with Americans, French, Black, Whites, Gay, Woman, Child, and virtually every other association. I am sad to say that these associations exist and that I myself can be occasionally triggered by them, which is why we have racism and Donald Trump. Thus, we want to occasionally avoid looking like being part of certain stereotype (occasionally, because standing out can be also quite beneficially, if you do it right), and therefore to blend in!
We can do so by for example pretending to be local expats, by wearing backpacks that don’t scream TOURIST, by walking with local city maps, and know few words in a local language.
I am on the road now and will be sharing my adventures as they come! Interested to know more? Subscribe to my FREE newsletter and get tips and tricks as they come.
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Some other times we want to actually stand out!
Nothing says BORING more than average. Average today is underrated. There is just too much of it. Average performers receive bellow average income, have fewer friends, are less happy, and generally speaking are less well off in virtually every part of life compared to people stand out. Standing out is, therefore, the only way to be noticed and to have a better life. But there is a right way to standing out and a wrong way to do so.
The right way is, therefore, comes from strength and the wrong way comes from weakness. We show strength when we know what we are doing, like not being obviously lost in the city, when we know something cool that other people want to know too, like playing guitar, or when we walk with confidence and a smile through life. The opposite goes for standing out as weak. Poor people obviously stand out as weak. So do the negative and sad people. Negativity, as I keep on writing in this blog, is a sign of weakness that we want to avoid.
This is to say that we have to find a right balance between standing out and blending in. We should cover our weaknesses as much as possible and with them to blend in, while we should show off our strength as much as possible, as we want to stand out with them. This means that we should know what are our strength and weaknesses are in the first place. How to find these strength and weaknesses is a subject for another post, which if you are interested can be found by pressing here.