Solo… a word which, throughout my twenties, evoked overwhelming feelings of fear, desperation and insecurity.
Despite being a clear-cut ‘independent’ person; headstrong and strong-willed, any chance to behave as such was dashed by insecurity. Admittedly, I did have psychological issues around being alone. Admitting it openly now is nerve-wracking but I want more people to see the progression. Basically, I couldn’t be alone without feeling panicked and depressed. This impacted everything in my life. At it’s worst, I couldn’t go shopping alone without fearing the world’s eyes staring at me. I wouldn’t have dared contemplate sitting alone at a coffee shop. The prospect of a mere walk down the street to the grocery store brought on sweats and anxiety. The feeling that people would single me out and point and stare kept me too perpetually terrified to step out on my own and too lonely to stay in on my own.
But today here I am, at Heathrow Airport,
about to embark on my first ever solo trip. It’s for a few days and it’s in Europe
. Nevertheless, I have never travelled / holidayed alone, having scoured the globe always with a companion, friends or family. So for me, this is a first and a huge step.
Boarding flight from London to Vienna. First solo travel adventure. Europe’s a great destination for a first trip. Here goes…
Insecurity will always live inside me. Despite my plethora attempts to stamp it out, I accept it’s part of who I am. But I have spent the past few years forcing myself to challenge it. Brick by brick, down comes the wall. What was once an insurmountable mountain is now more of a hurdle. But I’m not settling there.
Having recently decided to move to and live alone in the Channel Islands played a huge part in my turnaround.
That was the biggest personal change I’d ever made; to purposely start from scratch, make new friends, enjoy a social life, work, take up hobbies and interests and live alone, all of my own accord and away from the safety net of loved ones. Challenges came in the small things. Sometimes I struggled to go out and socialise and would have to ‘have words’ with myself. Each time I did, I’d celebrate a small inner victory. It’s not that I’m anti-social. But insecurity is like that; it throws up excuses and takes hold.
Despite this, I’m always gobsmacked when people tell me I appear confident. Are they just not looking hard enough?
I walk around convinced I have a massive flashing signpost on my forehead that reads, ‘Insecure!!!’ It’s hard to believe that people might not actually be seeing it. I feel I live the ultimate paradoxes to the condition; working in broadcasting news, having a wildly independent soul, being a Gemini… insecurity doesn’t fit into that sentence. That’s why I had to challenge it and give myself a chance to be the ‘real’ me.
The urge to travel solo has been building
. People have entered my life, at key moments, and somehow imparted a fascination with travelling alone through their own experiences. They say people enter your life for a reason. I’m a firm believer. I’ve always had
to push my own boundaries in personal development
. It’s like an innate desire to grow, learn and absorb as much as I possibly can. But when I get an idea in my head, I obsess until I find a way to make it possible. And wherever I’ve used this, there’s always been a way. Living life in this way has meant that I can honestly say there isn’t much I’ve wanted to get out of life that I haven’t. Not easily, mind; I’ve had to fight to find ways. That definitely explains why I’m intolerant of people who are full of excuses
for not living their lives the way in which they’d like or not being the person they truly want to be. Life is just too short & precious to waste like that, without even trying.
Setting off on my first ever solo trip, I’m anxious, very excited and positively unsettled. These are emotions I strongly recommend e veryone experience. It’s mostly in moments like these that I realise what I’m made of and surprise myself with a strength of spirit I forget exists because I rarely get to use it. Positive reinforcement for life’s turmoils and tribulations.
I am worried about the finer details such as getting my suitcase of the revolving belt(!) and looking after money, directions, safety, eating out alone etc. I definitely believe it will be a love or hate experience. But a little voice inside keeps whispering, telling me I will love it.
Cafe Imperial, traditional age-old Viennese coffee house to spend an entire afternoon alone with the paper, a coffee and my thoughts, Vienna, Austria
Of course, I’ve picked Vienna; a destination crammed with all my loves: coffee, chocolate, history, architecture, music, mountains and river. And this, in my favourite season, Autumn. I’m ecstatic at the thought of historic churches, grand cathedrals, beautiful old buildings, paintings and antiquities, museums traditional and modern and vintage cosy coffee houses! And I’ll be staying at a hotel considered one of the three grande dames of Vienna, a magnificent former palace.
I’m particularly excited about spending an entire afternoon in an age-old coffee house
, reading books, sipping Viennese coffees
, eating patisseries, people watching
and feeling warm and cosy whilst outside leaves fall in the dark mist. I’m also looking forward to spending hours admiring the baroque, Gothic and Neo-Gothic architectures
of the stunning city, without feeling hurried or rushing to other’s interests or schedules. It will be wonderful to explore on my own terms: wandering to wherever I feel, discovering my own hidden gems and relying on my own intuition. I feel like a grown up child. As a child I always dreamed of adventure. I loved getting lost. The world was my playground. Now, an adult, I’m hoping to re-kindle these feelings, with the added benefit of maturity, sense and instinct.
Such are my very initial impressions of solo travel. The journey is just beginning…