It’s 2pm on a Tuesday afternoon and I am sitting in a funky little café in New Orleans, drinking coffee and people watching. I had somehow managed to get myself lost while walking to my destination and saw this little café on the corner and decided to give it a shot. As soon as I walked in, gentle jazz music was playing as other patrons sat around on their laptops working away; my kind of place! I ordered my coffee (which just so happened to be amazing! CC’s Coffee House in New Orleans for the win!), took a corner couch seat with a window view and proceed to stare out the window and people watch. I gotta say, the vibe in this place is crazy and not what I expected. But that’s good. I would rather be surprised than disappointed, and I was pretty surprised when I ventured out of my hotel.
It’s hard to explain the vibe here but New Orleans seems to be a place where anything goes; you can do what you want and you can get what you want, you just need to know where to look. It’s a place that hits all the senses; smell, sound, sight, touch and taste. And the contrast between day and night is incredible! It can be overwhelming when you first get here and walk out at night because there are people everywhere and it is loud. And I mean, LOUD. Music is blaring out of every bar, club and kiosk you walk past. But walk out during the day and it’s like you are in another city. There are still people walking around, but the atmosphere is different. The music is turned down and the outfits are more low key, if you get what I mean. Except for the guy that was walking around in tights with stars and planets all over them, with a somewhat shiny pink cape and a green wig. But hey, be you my friend, be you!
But as is always the case, people watching gets me thinking and today was no different. As I looked around, I found myself fascinated by the people here. Like I said, it’s a place where anything goes, and it seems like people take that mandate seriously. You can tell who the tourists and visitors are here by their excitement and their somewhat awkwardness at doing what the locals are doing. You know, the whole, ‘when in Rome’ thing. I have that attitude when it comes to eating local food and checking out local destinations, but that’s sort of where it stops. Just because I can do something, doesn’t mean I will. The world offers up a lot of things on a silver platter and while some may look good, taste good and feel good, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are good for you. Most people have a relatively similar view of what is right and wrong, but when it comes to what is good or bad, opinions swing wide. Everyone has their own beliefs and will love them out accordingly, as is our right, but it is interesting explaining to some people why you don’t want to do certain things.
For the most part, I find people tend to respect my position on things and what I will or won’t do, but there have been times when people have questioned it or mocked it. And that’s okay, each to their own. I can hold my own and am comfortable in the stand I take on things, so I have no issue defending it when I feel the need to, which isn’t often because if you can’t respect my choices, then I’m not going to waste time trying to make you understand. Live and let live, people. But I see often, especially when I’m travelling, how people get pressured into being someone they are not or doing things that they are not really comfortable with. And I can see the temptation of it, of being in another country surrounded by people you will likely never see again. It’s a fine line and one that you can easily cross if you’re not careful. Again, the lines we draw vary according to our beliefs and values, so my lines and yours are likely very different, but we are at tempted at one point or another to cross the line. At some point in time, we are all faced with the option of blurring our lines or cementing them, and it is difficult, especially when everyone around you is telling you it’s okay. Or that your lines are stupid and outdated. But stand firm. Hold your ground. Don’t compromise who you are and what you believe in order to please other people, even if what you think is different to everyone around you. Dig your heels in and hold your position because at the end of the day, when we all stand before our Maker, we will have to answer for our actions, not the actions of others. If you are confident in your views and the lines you have drawn, then own it, baby. Own it and smile because you will always have haters and critics and naysayers in your midst trying to bring you down or change you. Ignore them. Hold your head up and keep walking the path that has been set for you and just ignore them. It’s what I do. And it’s freeing, so very, very freeing! Wherever you are today, keep shining and keep being you because the world needs you.