But Aren’t You Scared?
The first time I travelled abroad alone I was 16 years old. I boarded a plane to Istanbul, Turkey and it was the best decision I (and my incredibly smart parents) could have made. I took my next international flight when I was 22 years old to the USA. About 18 months after that I flew to Asia and I’ve been hopping across borders ever since. Being a solo female traveller is the only kind of traveller I know how to be. It’s part of who I am. I guess I could say it is who I am.
That’s why I find it difficult to answer people when they ask: ‘but aren’t you scared?’ Of course travelling alone is scary but never scary enough not to try. Convincing myself to try something incredibly scary has changed my life in the most phenomenal way. You know, when I was in my late teens and early twenties I had a weird anxiety about calling and ordering pizza over the phone because I’d have to speak to someone I didn’t know. I felt shy or embarrassed to call a waitress over to my table if I needed assistance. I second-guessed myself every time I arrived anywhere before my friends because perhaps being alone didn’t look that cool. And these were things that plagued me, things that I really struggled with. I’m sure you may think I’m ridiculous for ever feeling that way but having experienced that kind of self-doubt has really helped me understand how much I have grown since.
You see, travelling alone means that you have to communicate with strangers constantly. You have to be confident when asking for help. You have to trust that what you have to say is relevant enough to be said. I think the best thing I’ve learnt is to give people the benefit of the doubt. When you travel solo you leave your life in the hands of a stranger at least once a week – in Thailand it’s almost daily on my motorbike commute to work, but that’s off topic… The point is that you have to learn to trust. And then you realise just how nice it is to trust. I’ve also learnt that people are really not that scary. In fact, we all experience the same mundane minutes, we all love love, we all respond to a smile and we all exist to bear witness to the lives of others. Thai, Laotion, American, Capetonian… we’re all just people
Sure it can be scary, but you’ll be amazed at how much you see without the opinions of others influencing your perspective. Travelling alone is the best decision you’ll ever make. The scariest part is realising that the world isn’t that scary after all.
Have a happy Thursday – and smile at a stranger!