Introverted. Apprehensive. Restless. Meek.
These are not qualities associated with a solo traveller; and yet these are the characteristic I would use to describe myself when faced with unfamiliar circumstances. So how then, did I, a wallflower, end up travelling alone and how did I adapt to the situation?
Remarkably well, apparently.
My very first solo trip (Iceland 2015) was a great success and although I would have enjoyed the company of M or my family, I would not let their absence deter me from embracing what the world has to offer.
The first few days were difficult, I’ll admit. Once the initial excitement subsided and I found myself in my hotel room, things got quiet. Very quiet. Alone with my thoughts, I began to doubt my own abilities.
‘I don’t even like answering the phone to strangers. How are am going to survive two weeks in a foreign country alone?’
‘What if people laugh at me, or can’t understand me?’
‘This was a mistake.’
As I battled with my internal demons, I began to feel light headed and dizzy. After an overnight flight, I was jet-lagged, tired and hungry.
‘Get up. Get up and get something to eat.’ I pleaded with the silence.
And I did – not because I wanted to, but because I had to.
Little by little, through gentle persuasion and self-encouragement, I began to climb the steps of a steep but rewarding ladder. In the follow weeks, I was to become comfortable with my own thoughts, feelings and..well.. myself. I learnt to not give in to paranoid delusions that everyone was watching me, or laughing at me…and so what if they were? I was on the trip of a lifetime and I didn’t intend to leave with any regrets.
Energized and with a fresh outlook, I found it easier to make friends. Young or old, solo or couple, local or tourist, no one was beyond my comfort zone. The success of my increased willingness to make friends was the biggest contributor to overall trip satisfaction.
Now the question is: would I do it again?
I’ve noticed subtle changes to my personality since returning from Iceland and better still, so have others. I’m no longer afraid to answer the phone or fill-up on petrol by myself. I can ask a question if I don’t understand and am more willing to try new things. I am more open to failure and approach challenges differently. Most importantly, I am more connected to who I am as a person. What once seemed like mountainous tasks are now small measures of accomplishment. Through the sink-or-swim scenario of going-it-alone in Iceland, my instincts kicked in and I gained access to a deeper level of confidence I was previously unaware of.
I’m sure that each person’s experience would differ, as it would with each destination, and yet for me, Lindsey the unassuming, it was one of the best decisions of my life.
I feel great and look forward to what another place or time can offer me.
A blooming wallflower. A wandering rose.