My home in New York. A place where appearance is valued and looking good has been ingrained in me by society since I was young. As I first arrived in Cambodia, I made sure my hair looked nice, my clothes were clean and looked flattering. First impressions matter, and I have always known a world where first impressions are based not on who you are, but how you looked.
Continuing throughout the first day, I felt vulnerable without my usual makeup and nice clothing. Then that evening, my first bucket shower. Standing in the bathroom with just myself, a few buckets of water, and my travel size shampoo, conditioner and travel wash, I had never felt so out of my element. However, after I took a deep breath, and poured the water on my head, the cold water in the warm air, I felt amazing. With each successive bucket, I forgot what it was like in my old shower at home. I began to prefer this one.
As I instinctively turned to the wall looking for a mirror, I noticed there wasn’t one. I had never felt so liberated. I just didn’t care. I didn’t care that my clothes were a little dirtier, for I had hiked to a beautiful waterfall in them. I didn’t care that my clothes were extremely conservative and ill-fitting, because that way I was able to gain the respect of local people. I didn’t care that there was no hot water, for the cold water felt better than my shower at home ever did. And I didn’t care that there wasn’t a mirror, for I had never felt as confident or as secure in myself as I have these last few days.