As life carries on and many obstacles are thrown our way, we as humans often forget that there is something much bigger than our own reality. With approximately 195 countries in the world today, and approximately 7.6 billion people walking the Earth, there are so many cultures, lives, and stories unheard of. After 10 specific days of summer, I was thankfully reminded of the "big picture."
You see, during our day-to-day routines, it is so easy to get carried away with bothersome things like having to wait an extra five or 10 minutes for your Starbucks coffee, complaining about a too cold or too hot air conditioning situation, having up to an hour of traffic on the highway or a slow driver in the express-lane, having up to five assignments due before midnight, and so forth. But what is important to recognize is that millions of people in the world suffer from things far worse.
This summer, as I read, traveled outside of the United States, and attended foreign public schools, I experienced things I had not experienced before. The term developing countries is so often described by the media and at schools. However, the experience is far beyond any explanation. The most common and basic things that we use and often take advantage of or complain about do not even exist in these countries.
I mentioned above that a common annoying thing in our day-to-day routines could often be the Starbucks lines. But imagine a life in which you've never tasted a Starbucks coffee because you simply cannot afford it. As you complain about your air conditioning, imagine a life in which there is no air conditioning anywhere you go - rooms are either freezing your toes off or making you constantly sweat. While being in an hour of traffic may delay you a bit or annoy you, imagine a life in which it takes you two to three hours to drive no more than 30 miles to work with a nonexistent express-lane. Meanwhile, you're also fearing several motorcyclists that attempt to rob you of personal things while you're at a standstill on the highway. And lastly, while you complain about the several pre-medical or engineering exams you have coming up, imagine a life in which the brightest future you envision for yourself is to become a taxi driver or a butler because that is the best opportunity you are given by your community.
There are thousands of examples, each worse than the others. Observing and learning from people who live those realities opened my eyes to the privileged life I live. As I returned to the United States, I reflected on what I have and gave my life the appreciation it deserves. The people I met will never be forgotten. In fact, I aspire to use these experiences as motivation for myself to complain less and be grateful more, and I challenge you to do the same.
It is hard to see the bigger picture when we are so focused on the screenshot or the phase that we are currently living. But it is important to often step back and look at the entire photo album because there are far many stories to be seen. If you find yourself profusely bothered by a certain situation, I advise you to take a step back, breathe, and think about how much worse it could be. Then take a minute to be grateful for it and return to your day.