A dear friend whose children were a bit older than mine and who was also a principal of a school and so cared for many children, once said: “catch them in the act of doing something good”.
Empty praise, is just that. Empty. And kids know it. But being seen, really being seen as capable, hard-working, talented… that is special and that can change everything.
Stay with me here. I’ll get to the bit about solo travel.
What we were caught in the act doing as children stays with us as adults. Whether the important people in our lives saw us as smart (or not), kind (or not), athletic (or not)… to a large degree defines who we are and what we do as adults. It affects the work we choose, our leisure activities, the friends we have and everyone’s expectations of us – including our own.
I do not know one person who is totally confident and completely happy with who they are. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t feel, in some way, limited by their childhood.
Now this is where solo travel comes in.
Last week on the Solo Travel Society on Facebook I asked the question: other than travel, what is solo travel about? The answers were voiced in many ways but there were essentially, only two answers:
- Finding yourself – this includes building confidence as you take care of yourself without backup, pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone and discovering what makes you happy.
- Freedom – including the opportunity to be spontaneous, do what you want without compromise and enjoy your own company.
As you travel solo being totally responsible for yourself, it’s inevitable that you will discover just how capable you are. As you push your boundaries, whether it’s by going to a restaurant alone for the first time or navigating a country where you don’t know the language, you will gain confidence. As you move to your own rhythm and follow your own interests you will most certainly discover what makes you happy. As an adult traveling solo, no longer is it about what others see in you. It’s about what you see in you.
It’s about catching yourself in the act of doing something good.
The photo above is me hiking in Patagonia. I’m an urban girl. Growing up, hiking was never a family activity. Further, I would never, ever, have been considered the athletic type. Sports were for my siblings.
So as I hiked, first on a solo trip to the the Lake District of England in 2009 and again, two years later in Patagonia Chile, with a few smaller hikes in between I pushed my boundaries. I discovered a joy in new things. I gained confidence.
On those trips I caught myself in the act of becoming who I am today. I did so in Bologna, London and Paris this fall as well. Whether it’s a hiking adventure or an urban one, I don’t expect that this will ever stop. I expect to continue to evolve, grow and become slightly better versions of myself.
I hope you’ll travel solo because, as you do, you’ll have the wonderful opportunity of catching yourself in the act of becoming too.