Lessons From Hitchhiking
Whether you are just hitching a ride to school, or you are hitchhiking to another distant country entirely, hitchhiking has some great lessons to teach. As a matter of fact, the attitude and boldness to hitchhike are one that, if when thoroughly applied, could revolutionize the life of anyone and bring the best out of their life.
What is hitchhiking?
Hitchhiking is the act of travelling by getting free lifts in moving vehicles. Does this ring a bell?
There are chances you have hitchhiked before, maybe you were stranded in a place where commercial vehicles were scarce, then you resorted to stopping a private vehicle owner to give you a lift. At other times, maybe you were short of cash and needed to get somewhere in time, besides you do not have enough strength to go through the journey on foot, who still have such strengths nowadays though?
Hitchhikers all over the world have hitch-hiked great distances, done unimaginable hitchhike travels but they have some few lessons to teach every one of us. Miran Ipavec from Slovenia holds the record for hitchhiking up to 10 countries in 23 hours and 15 minutes. Pavel Trcala, from the Czech Republic, travelled the record-breaking distance of 2777 km (1736 miles) within a 24-hour period solely by hitchhiking. Several other hitchhiking records exist out there, recorded and documented by hitchhikers themselves. But one more thing they documented is the great life’s lesson they learnt from hitchhiking.
What Are Some Challenges in Hitchhiking
- Uncertainty: If you have ever hitchhiked before, can you recall how long it can take to get a vehicle sometimes? At other times, it would just take a shorter time. But in the overall, there is great uncertainty in hitchhiking.
- Aborted expectations: If you are a long-distance hitchhiker, you know that your expectations for the journey are not always achieved. Maybe in your mind, you imagine that you would stand by the road, find a vehicle within 20 minutes, get to your first destination, then find the very welcoming helper just immediately. All of those would turn out to be the extreme opposite and expectations shattered.
- Disappointment: Aborted expectations could lead to a feeling of disappointment and when this happens, you turn around to hate whoever was not available to help you when you needed them the most.
- Unmet necessities: Some things are basic necessities. They are things you can’t live well without, for example, food, shelter and clothing. When you go on a very long distance, you can only do little to plan for the food would eat, the clothes you would put on, etc, but sometimes, they might not always be met.
- Unpredicted costs: You are hitchhiking to another country and on arrival, you notice that food and many other things are a lot cheaper than where you hitchhiked from, probably where your home is. That is one possibility. The other is having to arrive at your new destination and find out there are living is costlier than it is where you came from.
The Relevance of Hitchhiking To Our Normal Life
If we are going to learn from hitchhiking, we first have to see how it relates to our normal life. Hitchhiking, in this sense, will be like a problem-laden adventure that bears great similarities to our normal life, such that providing answers to those problems or finding a way to adapt to them is equivalent to doing so for our lives too.
Here are some ways hitchhiking is relevant to our normal life:
- Business is an adventure, anything can happen.
- Marriage is full of uncertainties.
- Making plans is better but plans may not always be fulfilled the way and time you want.
- Wishes come true, but only when you do a little more work about them.
- Relationships are 50 – 50, a breakup is always a possibility.
- There are different bus stops or turning points in a man’s life.
- People you don’t expect help from, turn out to be the ones to help you.
- Your best shots don’t always produce effects instantly, it may take some more time to manifest.
Life’s Lessons From Hitchhiking
Almost everyone would think that hitchhiking is only a means of travel reserved for the poor and homeless people who are too poor to afford a ride but little did they know that even wealthy people sometimes hitchhike for the fun of it. Even beyond the fun are the lessons you’d learn from the journey and the people you’d meet.
A hitchhiker once said, “instead of shelling out money for a self-improvement class, consider packing a bag and heading for the highway!“.
Here are some great life’s lessons you’d learn from hitchhiking:
- Always stay positive; there is always a way
- Recognize that people are capable of being really nice
- Plan for uncertainties
- Don’t expect too much from people, don’t judge too quickly
- To connect with the world, you must sometimes disconnect from it
- Be confident enough to ask questions
- Appreciate what you already have
- Change is inevitable, accept and adapt quickly
- Patience is a necessity
Always Stay Positive; There Is Always A Way
Having to stand and wait by the side of the road, with your thumbs up each time a vehicle passes by. Not all of those vehicles are going to stop for you, you know right? But as they keep passing by without stopping, you are likely to get drawn into negative and cynical thinking. You begin to question if it will ever be possible to find one that will stop for you.
Maintaining a positive attitude under such repeated failure or attempts can be rather difficult for most people, but the choice to stay positive does great good in the end. Complaining about negative situations without doing something about them has never helped anyone and you won’t be the first it will help. It even saps away your spirit and energy gradually, at the best. This is one lesson we can learn from hitchhiking – stay positive, there is always a way.
Recognize That People Are Capable of Being Really Nice
For long-distance hitchhikers, you would sometime encounter people who will show you genuine kindness. Some would even help to give you a place to lay your head for the night. You think people are wicked, and you think everyone is? You will know how wrong you are when a total stranger offers to help with something you really need at them moment. That’s life and hitchhiking makes us realize that people are capable of being nice, as opposed to what the cynical person believes.
Plan For Uncertainties
Life, like we know is full of uncertainties. When you are on a hitchhike, especially to very distant places you’ve never been to, you may not have a single clue of where you’d go next, or which place you would find your next shuttle. This also happens in our day to day life, but how do you respond to these uncertainties? There are two possible responses;
- Stress yourself out in anxiety over uncertainties you have no control over
- Keep moving, reassured that everything will work fine in the end
The next question here is ‘how do you plan for uncertainties?‘. How do you plan for things you know nothing about?
There are yet two ways you can plan for uncertainties. You may have heard of alternate planning, where you simply have an alternate plan B, a Plan C or even D. In this case, you try to envisage all the possibilities as much as you can and plan for all of them. But sometimes, the possibilities are not that straight forward, hence, the second way:- keep moving on with the change. Drucker said this too. You know Drucker?
Moving on with the change and adapting is actually a backup plan that is available to everyone, but very few people actually use it. Hitchhiking will teach you to be dynamic and spontaneous and envisage that not even your plans are 100% certain.
Don’t Expect Too Much From People, Don’t Judge Too Quickly
You are probably seeing a personal car with just the driver inside, no passengers and the man does not seem to be in so much hurry. In your mind, your expectations heighten that this vehicle is going to stop for you, after all, it’s not already overcrowded.
When you are hitchhiking, you will come across people who you think are in the right position to help you but who will not help you. You could feel disappointed and frustrated and may even say they are wicked and selfish. But as you keep going, you will learn that people are not as you think they are.
To avoid feeling so disappointed, hitchhiking would teach you to keep an open mind in anyone, don’t expect too much from them because they can fail at any time. And when they fail, do not judge too quickly.
To Connect With The World, You Must Sometimes Disconnect From It
When you are hitchhiking, the majority of the time you will make contacts with people of different categories. And in our new age, these contacts are gradually fading away. The world is now a global village with everyone connected via the internet and telecommunication systems. However, this advancement in technology also produced some for of disconnection with the physical people around us.
To connect with the world around us, we must first disconnect from the social media world. What this means is that you should deliberately restrict your internet and social media use sometimes to be with the ones you love once in a while. That’s one other lesson you learn from hitchhiking.
Be Confident Enough To Ask Questions
When you are stranded sometimes, asking for help would prove very useful. So many people do not know how to ask for help from a stranger or they are just too shy to do so. But hitchhiking takes that out of you. You encounter different people on the commute or just sitting, and if you need some direction, the best thing you could do is to ask them for help.
Question-asking is one tool that we are naturally endowed with to help us find answers. If you don’t ask, you don’t get answers. I earlier wrote about having to try your bests before asking for help, but the bottom line here is you need to learn to ask questions or ask for help when you absolutely need to.
Do you know that if you are stranded by the way, but you fail to ask someone for help, you would remain so except someone intervenes? Hitchhiking teaches you to be confident and humble enough to ask for help when you need to, even when there are chances that you would be turned down or even insulted.
Appreciate What You Already Have
“You will never know the price of water until the well is dry”. Hitchhiking gives you that experience of staying outside the home for a while. People who say ‘there is no place like home’ are either away from home or actually displaced from home. You will never see the true value of home until you are out of it.
There is no better eye-opener to the value of home than being a hitchhiker, especially in a foreign land. You temporarily lose your privacy, good and available water and food, friendly people who speak the same language with you, and family. And if you were previously ungrateful for these things, you will better cherish them when you return back home. The lesson here is, you may not realize it but you have a lot to be thankful for already.
Change Is Inevitable, Accept And Adapt Quickly
Like I mentioned earlier, accepting the uncertainty is a way preparing for it. But it’s not just by accepting, rather, it’s by accepting and adapting to this change of plans. In hitchhiking, almost everything is uncertain and it is important you prepare yourself for these sporadic changes.
Most people are so opposed to change that they cannot take two different roads back and forth from a place. Hitchhiking breaks that mentality from you, because even the roads you will take, that may be your first and probably your last time taking that route, but what is important is learning to accept and adapt to change because it is insanity to do the same thing over and over again, but expect different results.
Patience Is A Necessity
Life is a journey that requires great patience. It’s like a marathon, both speed and stamina are required. You’d experience unexpected moments, things you didn’t plan for. You’d experiences times when you are tired and frustrated and other times your desires are just on hold. These are similarly experienced in hitchhiking but if you can go through them, or prepare yourself to face them, then you can go through life too.
Why does hitchhiking look so similar to life? That I won’t be able to answer at them moment, but what I can say for now is that there are great life’s lessons that hitchhiking can teach us. Patience is just one of them. Patience also helps you to maintain a positive attitude.
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