I was born and raised in Oakland.
Having grown up in that city, it’s given me a mentality of always staying grounded and humble. I bring that mentality with me everywhere I go.
I believe that at the end of the day, it’s really all just about people. The connection and relationships that bond between people are what I really value.
A lot of my reflection and memories of Oakland actually stem from people, rather than places. Oakland will always be home to me; I definitely consider myself a homebody Even going to college at UC Davis, I still felt like I was at home because I literally went back to Oakland every other weekend throughout all the years at college.
The first time I truly left home was when I graduated and traveled to Seattle for work for around 6 months. I had no idea I was going to be there for an entire six months. It started out with one month, then it somehow just kept extending for work. This made me really reluctant to actually go out and explore, meet, and connect with new people because I basically felt like those new friends wouldn’t really matter. It all felt too temporary. I actually clung onto people a lot more back home than I did while I was physically home; that was kind of a natural reaction for me to just make sure home was still there.
From this experience, I was actually depressed for a good amount of time during the 6 months. It might have been because of the rainy weather in Seattle. I always felt really down, and just hung around my AirBnb all the time. I’m sure people would think it’s a glamorous life to travel for work since the companies do pay for you travels, pay for your food. And trust me, the food part was awesome. I seriously ate oysters every day. I would walk into a restaurant where everyone is above 40, and you see this young Asian kid walk in, and I literally ordered whatever I wanted. It was great. I also had the nicest AirBnb spot, but despite all these materialistic things, in hindsight, I noticed that I was still sad because I didn’t have anybody to share any of these experiences with. You can have the best things and travel to the craziest places, but if you don’t have anyone to share and create memories with, it’s not going to be as great.
I know a lot of people enjoy solo traveling, but I personally don’t like solo traveling. There are many great parts of that, but for me, I would rather share them with someone. The counter to that would be that I could obviously meet somewhere there, but the actual people I would want to share the experiences with are the people that I love: family members, potential significant others, best friends. I keep my circle pretty small so I don’t exactly want to share all these great memories with someone I don’t personally know.
I definitely respect those who do travel and enjoy traveling alone. It’s great because it really does force you to grow. I respect that and I never regret my experience in doing so because it made me grow as a person. It really makes you mentally think about who you are and why you feel the way you do. People should definitely try to travel solo at least once in their lives. It’s a real eye-opener.
My favorite trip has to be when I went to Japan and Korea. The way people are and think out there is just amazing. I feel like I met a new me and got a new perspective on life after this trip. It was a combination of the fashion sense everyone there had, as well as the mannerisms they showed. The people there showed such kindness toward one another and it was refreshing. I forgot how nice you should be to other humans if you want that kindness back. You learn that in elementary school but you throw that all away because you kind of just forget. And as for their fashion sense, they were all so expressive. They were stylish but were extremely humble about it, which I thought was really great.
I believe that if someone really wants to grow, they need to leave their comfort zone or their home. You need to just go somewhere, and get out. It could be anywhere. It’s also important to come back as well, and bring back what you learned.
I definitely think it’s important for people to get out and see the world. It challenges who they are. It also just forces them to not be comfortable, which is hard but once you’re out of your comfort zone, that’s when you start learning about yourself. It is kind of like a rubber band. If you stretch it a little bit, of course it’s uncomfortable, but if you keep on doing it and keep it there for a while, it will naturally stretch out. Kind of like your denim jeans. It will eventually get comfortable but you won’t even know until you try it out. You just have to give things a chance.
Follow Ben on Instagram at @ben.trinh.