I strolled down one of the busiest streets in Madrid, my camera and purse clutched in front of me, through a sea of people who don’t speak my language. No one around me besides the girls I traveled with knew my name, where I was from or why I was here. With this realization, the world around me began to grow, and I became increasingly smaller.
From a young age, we are constantly told, “Strive to be big and strong.” We want to be the greatest at what we do, and we long to be known. And that’s OK. It’s human nature to want to be known by others. We want to be a big deal, whether we care to admit it or not.
Travel has a magical way of making you feel small. The more I move from place to place in Europe, I am reminded of how big of a deal I am not. Mistakes are inevitable, all of the people are new and the places are often confusing.
I am no longer Grace Hodo from Boerne, Texas, majoring in journalism. I am a traveler, like all the others in Madrid, just trying to see as much of the world as I can. Travel makes me feel insignificant in the very best way.
There is something so humbling about looking into a crowd of people and recognizing that each person has their own family, friends and community, all apart from your own. Stepping from your world to another and acknowledging there are countless places you will never visit and billions of people you will never meet puts the vastness of God’s creation on display.
Standing in the middle of Plaza Mayor, engulfed by people of all shapes, sizes and ethnicities I am reminded that Gustave Falubert said it best: “Traveling makes one modest –– you see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.”
I am thankful for all I don’t know about the world, for that means there is much for me to discover. I know I will never finish it all, and that’s okay.
I have always wanted to be known, but for right now, wandering the streets of Madrid, it’s nice to feel a little smaller.