Here’s a tidbit about Sarah Palin that caught my attention. According to her dad, Palin left college in Hawaii because being around too many Asians made her feel uncomfortable. Interesting. Sarah Palin attributes her leaving the Aloha State after just one semester to too much sunshine for an 18 year-old—as in beaches and academics are not a great mix for an Alaskan gal. Read Palin’s book Going Rogue:An American Life and you’ll get Palin’s version.
Whether Palin found hitting the books in Hawaii too difficult– or the number of Asians there too disconcerting, either option brings up the topic of comfort zones travel and going rogue.
People like Andrew Zimmern of Bizarre Foods and Bizarre World thrive on traveling outside of their comfort zones. To them, outside of the comfort zone is a comfort zone. A place where most people feel comfortable might cause them an unsettled feeling. Put a person like Zimmern in the middle of a Wal-mart in the U.S. and he or she might feel creeped out.
Places like a Disney theme park, McDonald’s, Las Vegas and some cruise ships have popular appeal because they have found the magic formula that fits the needs of the masses. They are comfort food with a dash of something that feels like excitement. At these places you know what to expect and can feel safe in the crowd.
How many people don’t travel outside of what they know because of the feeling of the unknown and the discomfort of sticking out in a crowd?
If Sarah Palin’s father is accurate in his assessment that her discomfort with being in the midst of too many Asians sent her to college in Idaho, I’d say Palin’s attitude takes her out of the rogue category and plops her into the main stream. It’s not a matter of being prejudiced either. It has to do with a tolerance for what is different. For some people it’s hard to feel comfortable in ones skin in an environment that is unfamiliar. Feeling comfortable takes time, practice and travel.
As anyone who has traveled extensively in other countries has discovered, travel helps stretch the skin. The more one travels past ones comfort zone, the more ones skin expands. What once felt disquieting feels as comfortable as a well worn shoe. The process of going from discomfort to comfort is one of the joys of travel. It’s one of the elements that pushes world travelers towards new horizons– to a state of going rogue.