Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Sink or Swim..maybe there's a happy medium?

A few months ago I decided that I was going to travel around Europe solo. I have always been a little lacking in the independence department, so what better way to solve that problem than by throwing myself head-first into another part of the world for a few weeks? Sort of a sink or swim approach.

However, my friends and family have not been so enthusiastic.

Not because they're horrible people that don't want me to follow my dreams. Nor because they love me so much that they can't bear to see me go away for a few months. No, sadly, it is because they know me.

I have been reassuring myself by telling myself I have changed. And it's true, I have changed a lot. I am no longer that shy, awkward, highschooler who was too scared to go to the canteen by herself. BUT, after blocking my fingers in my ears and singing 'lalalalala' for a while, I realised that they have a point. I may be perfectly happy to traipse around Canberra all by myself, but to be completely honest, Canberra is not big. As much as I love it, it is a sorry excuse for a city. It is more like a larger version of a suburb. A clean, safe, easy to navigate suburb.

And I still get lost even here. Always. Everywhere I go.

Maybe they were doubting me for a reason.

So, instead of just dumping myself in another country and praying for the best, I decided that I needed to go on a few solo expeditions first. Get used to being by myself.
Get lost a few times, sure, but then manage to find my way back without the help of other people.

So off to Sydney I went.

It was only for two days, which to other people seems like nothing. But I have never been anywhere by myself. The furthest I have ever been away is a twenty minute drive..and that is for university and work. So for me, this was a big step.

And I loved it. Every single second of it.

I caught the train up on Sunday morning then walked through the city to my hostel. And it was easier than I thought. To find places. To read maps. To explore.
It turns out I have a perfectly decent sense of direction. It has just never surfaced before. As sad as it is, I guess I have somewhat of a learned helplessness on my hands. I just drift along in a daydream, expecting other people to find things and lead the way. I have never thought to rely on myself before like that.

That feeling of independence, feeling that I am perfectly fine alone, that I don't always need someone holding my hand, was a huge revelation for me.

The rest of the day I spent chatting to the people in my hostel, then going for a walk by myself to find a nice cafe to write in. I gave up after a while and just went to Gloria Jeans. Quick observation: how is it that the biggest city in Australia has an appalling lack of good cafes? Not impressed.

I then went for a walk around Darling Harbour, which was beautiful. It was so lovely to do what I wanted. To feel free to stop and sit for an hour simply to people watch and dream. To taste the fresh air and just enjoy being. I have never really done that before.

Then the next day I did something else a little bit (a lot!!!) out of my comfort zone. I got some 1950s pin up photos done. I booked it a while back, though not really expecting to actually go through with it. However, I plucked up the courage (and it took all I had) and did it. And it was great!

I got my hair and makeup done, then spent the rest of the day in full skirts, petticoats, stockings and red lipstick, prancing around in kitchens and fake 1950s diners. I was of course, painfully awkward. I would not have expected anything else. But the photographer was so very lovely that I still had a great time, and even loosened up a little. Not much. But a little.

So yes, this weekend was definitely one of taking chances and trying things I wouldn’t have considered before I started this blog. Before I got to read your blogs, your inspiring stories. See you guys face your fears and follow your dreams every day.

I have always been so afraid of change, but after this weekend I realised that pushing myself out of my comfort zone may not be such a bad thing after all.

Oh, and the best part?

I didn’t get lost once.


Tiq said...

First of all, another round of Happy Birthday wish for you Kaylia!!

Wow ! A big applause for that one step ahead lady! You really have the gut to travel on your own, I'm not sure if I can do that but I guess I must experience that someday.

And can we see your gorgeous 1950s pin up photos in your next post? Yeay ! Can't wait !!!

gracey said...

And the lovely girl is celebrating her birthday! :) Congratulations Kaylia! Actually, it's such an impressive move for you to conquer fear of going places independently no matter how big or small it is. It means you're now bound to take risks. Reading this post reminded me of my first alone trip to Thailand where i got lost in Bangkok and almost missed my flight going to Phuket and some islands. And i, again, almost missed my flight back to the Philippines because i wandered around, i'm directionally disastrous like that hahah. So i truly salute you! :)

Who knows, one of these days, i'll read a post about your backpacking in Europe. ;)

a work in progress said...

Pics! Pics! Pics! I have been wanting to do a 50s shoot for the longest time - inspire me lady :)

congrats on your adventure too! Does this mean Europe is next on the agenda?

becky said...

You are such a beautiful person. I am so glad you did this---so glad that you didn't listen to your family and stepped out, doing something for you. And you write about it so well, too, so passionately. Better yet, I am glad you proved it to yourself that you can do it, that you can follow through with these things even if you haven't excelled quite so much at it before. I wish I had the bravery to travel alone---I am too much of a fumbling, nervous mess. Maybe, because of this post, I will soon attempt it. Soon try something for me. I love what you wrote about being the awkward high-schooler, by the way. I can TOTALLY empathise with that feeling. I hope you had a lovely birthday!

jillian m. said...

what an inspiring post. you're so bold and independant to take this journey alone (and you still had a wonderful time!).

p.s. gloria jean's is my weakness! the white chocolate cherry and caramel chillers are my favorite!

Ash said...

I can relate to this on so many levels! I have the same fears and my family teases me about the same things. But I am seriously so impressed and so inspired by your weekend. It's sounds like you had a great time! Maybe someday I'll be as brave!

Meher said...

That must have been amazing. I'm dying to go on one such trip.

Krysten @ After 'I Do' said...

50's pin up? Um, PICTURES!

Anait said...

This is amazing! Don't ever be afraid to do something because of how your friends and family, or even YOU yourself, perceive you. We are adaptable creatures, and until you throw yourself into a situation, you never know how it will go. Glad you had an amazing time!

I nominated you for a blog award....head on over to my blog and check it out :)

Googlover/keishua said...

lovely. I love that you are flying the coup. It is amazing how fearless we are when we step out. Thanks for sharing this great story.

becky said...

Please post the 50s pin-up pictures, too. They sound amazing---and equally as adventurous for shy, former awkward high-schoolers!

Mil said...

It's definitely important to travel on your own. It gives you confidence in yourself. I love exploring (safely) by myself. I think you could definitely figure out a city like Paris. Their metro system is pretty easy to do, plus there are more and more folks who speak some English now. Keep the dream alive!

Kimbirdy said...

this is so awesome and i'm so excited for you!! i took a big leap of faith and moved across country all by myself without anything planned. it was so scary!! but after you accomplish something big like traveling alone, you feel so liberated right? i think everyone should have that experience. i hope you get to europe soon! :)

Alison Gibson said...

Good for you Kaylia! I think learning to do things by yourself is great, mainly (for me at least) because it makes you realise that screwing up isn't that big a deal. Oh the stories I could tell you about my solo travelling days! I think the best thing is to be gentle with yourself, have expectations sure but don't berate yourself if you don't feel like one of those ridiculously confident super independent people. Plus, you're only lost if you actually have to be somewhere, and then you can always jump in a taxi. Until then, you're just wandering around enjoying a city. I've gotten so used to stuffing up majorly when travelling by myself that other people now don't want to travel with me because I have so many horror stories! But they are my stories, and they're not nearly as bad as they sound :)

Chelsea Lane said...

we have opposite problems, I doubt MY OWN ability to find things and go somewhere on my own! I am much too terrified to travel on my own. sad, huh. sounds like your day was still fun though!


Len♥reNeverM♥re said...

good for you. Kaylia!
this is so inspiring in so many levels!


Brandi {not your average ordinary} said...

Kaylia, I'm so impressed! It's really hard to step outside of our comfort zones and do something different, but I love that you did that and had a brilliant time! My feeling is that a solo trip to Europe should be punctuated with bits of time with people you know or friends of friends. I'd imagine that would help somewhat, having a guide now and then. At least, that's what I'm planning to do.

Kelly said...

Good for you, girl! (Can we see the photos?!)

Garden Girl☺ said...

That is great that you did that! Always follow your dreams!

Krystal said...

That is so awesome lady! I think it sounds like an amazing experience - you're ready for europe :)

ellecupcake said...

That is so cool! I know how you feel. I was so used to having someone guide me. I finally traveled alone for the first time last year and it was amazing. I was so scared. But it wasn't so bad. I asked a lot of questions at airports and I made all my flights! I read about the area and cool places to go once I got there. I can actually do things alone. That is such a good feeling. :)
Soooo you were the first to comment on my blog giveaway! woo :) Send me your address and I'll send you the loot. b.danelle@gmail.com

Bonnie said...

You're my fucking hero.
And I love you.
Let's get married.

Twitter: @GlamKitten88

Rebekka Seale said...

Oh, I LOVE this! Will you share the photos?

Deidre said...

I moved to another country permanently and my family still isn't happy about it. You can totally travel by yourself. I promise you'll be fine. I went to India by myself and it was both amazing and terrifying. You can totally do it!

Sonja said...

That sounds great! I love that you went to prepare yourself. I'm planning this whole south america trip this summer, and to be quite honest I don't even now if a part of it will work out because my parents won't let me go to Colombia by myself (understandable I suppose haha). But I totally know the feeling.
And as for these 50s pin up photos! DO post them please!!! :o)
I'm sure they're awesome!