The most common question I get asked regarding my journey around the world is: why did you do it? Most people expect a version of the ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ answer: “I was lost and I wanted to find myself”. The actual answer is more practical: I’ve always wanted to do it and I found myself with no girlfriend, no kids and no job. So, fuck it. I did it. That simple.
A trip around the world is more than a sum of a bunch of vacations in a row. You travel differently. The time you allocate for each destination, allows you to better understand the location’s culture and it changes you. Sometimes by a little. Sometimes by a lot. I don’t think I found myself nor was I lost, but I uncovered a great deal of new findings that could have only been discovered by taking this trip. One of the things I learned was to dislike the word ‘ugly’. A lot.
The word ‘ugly,’ primarily has two meanings: it is used to describe a violent act or something unpleasant in behavior; or the more common definition of describing something unpleasant in appearance or un-beautiful. After traveling for more than 9 months now, I can no longer understand the word ‘ugly’ to describe appearance of anything. Not with inanimate objects nor worse, living things.
I propose that instead of ‘ugly’, people say ‘different’. It is ok for people to not like things that are different. We all are ‘unique and beautiful snowflakes’ and we all have opinions and taste. I love 80’s music and someone else may think it’s pure synthesizer crap. Someone else may love thrash-metal and another may think it is incomprehensible noise. That’s ok. I would say that each side would argue: you just don’t understand it! There-in lies the key. Like the cliché of ‘beauty lies in the eye of the beholder’, if you don’t understand something, how can you think it’s beautiful, let alone ugly?
We need to be cognizant that we are conditioned by the society we grow up in and we learn through it our likes and dislikes. And yes, media also plays a role. We learn this awful word to describe what we don’t understand but we don’t see it as such. During this trip, after having seen beauty in so many different ways and places, I no longer know what ‘ugly’ is if I saw it. I just see things that I don’t understand and it peeks my curiosity to find out more about it and see what is beautiful about it. I dare not dismiss it with ‘ugly.’
If you use the word ugly to describe the appearance of anything, you are flaunting your ignorance and being proud of it. Stop using the word. Be better than that.