It’s a well-known fact by now that I am a self-help freak. I’m always picking up self-enhancement books and I love to learn about the human psychology. I practically live in the Well-being section of the Indigo Bookstore.
However, there are times you have to get your head out the books and actually apply what you’ve learned in the real world. And what better way for an anxious girl like me to get out of her comfort zone than to go on a solo travel?
I love to travel, but have never gone to a foreign country on my own. The idea of a solo trip was at best daunting, and at worst panic-inducing. However, I’m so glad I took the plunge and went to Iceland.
Here’s what I’ve learned about
myself during my first solo trip.
I am self-sufficient.
I have a terrible sense of orientation. I turn left when I should go right. Google Maps is my lifeline. Thankfully, my husband is a born-navigator and we are able to get to our destination without too many detours when we travel together. That being said, travelling solo meant having to count on myself and finding my way when I got lost (often). And after a week of navigating Reykjavik on my own (and many wrong turns later with no Google Maps to guide me), I can now say I know the main streets like the back of my hand. This may sound silly, but it’s an extreme confidence booster for me. It made me realized that the pre-conceived notions I had about myself can be changed, and that’s empowering.
I’m not the anti-social mess I thought I was.
I am a shy person. I have social anxiety and being in a room full of strangers make me wince. So imagine being in a country where I know no one!
Thankfully, I’m a practical person too. I will do what I have to do in order to get the job done. In this case, it meant talking to strangers to avoid dying of boredom and forgetting what my voice sounded like. I’m happy to report that Icelandic locals are some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met and that I’ve made some great acquaintances during my trip. Travelling solo gave me confidence to strike a conversation with strangers and to overcome my shyness.
I learned to lean into the discomfort.
Although I’ve met some great people and I was rarely by myself, I did experience bouts of loneliness. And that’s usually when the anxiety and sense of discomfort kick in. It felt like a void inside of me getting bigger and bigger by the minute. Back at home, when I’m feeling uneasy, I would usually occupy myself by cleaning the house, calling a friend, nagging my husband, going shopping, etc. and not really question the sensation. I was basically running away from the emotion, hoping it will leave me alone.
However, standing above a cliff with nothing but the sea in front of me, with no where to hide and no one to distract me, I had no choice but to stop and observe the unease I was feeling in my body. I realized I had issues needing my attention that I kept on running away from. Travelling solo allowed me to finally focus on the discomfort I was feeling and to start addressing it.
Married life isn’t cramping my style.
You often hear jokes about how married life is the end of your social life, of your adventures and will kill your vibe. Well, I got married a few months and I decided to go on my first solo-trip a month after we exchanged vows (yes I do love him in case you’re wondering). It was something I felt I had to do for myself. My husband, who has traveled solo in the past, understood this need and actually encouraged me to pursue this goal as he felt I would greatly benefit from it. How amazing is it to have a husband that encourages you to get out of your comfort zone? I know not everyone is okay with the idea of their spouse travelling alone, but I’m grateful that my husband trusts me and wants to see me grow.
So off I went, had crazy adventures, made beautiful memories and then came running back home to my prince-charming to tell him all about it. I think he knew it was worth letting me go when he saw the stars in my eyes. And I know our relationship will benefit it too. The greatest gift you can give to your partner is your personal development.
While I would still rather travel with my husband or friends, I do admit that no trip has been as eye-opening as this solo experience and I look forward to eventually travelling alone again. If you have been thinking about going away on your own, I highly encourage you too! I leave you with the following quote to inspire you:
A mind that is stretch by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions. – Oliver Wendell Homes, Jr.
Much love and hugs,