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.