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12 Precious Life Lessons You Can Learn From Traveling Alone

12 Precious Life Lessons You Can Learn From Traveling Alone
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While it’s fun to travel with family or friends, or go on a romantic vacation with your significant other, there’s nothing like solo traveling to open your eyes and soul to the amazing experiences the world has to offer.

When you’re on your own, you have the freedom to do almost whatever you want without worrying about disappointing someone in the group. You can map your own route, plan your own itinerary, and make any last minute changes as you please.

Whether you’re used to living independently or you find comfort in kin, you’ll find that traveling alone is a breath of fresh air. Not only are there countless reasons to travel alone, there are also many life lessons to learn from the experience. Here are some of them:

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Treat the World Like it is Your Oyster

Yes, you’re just a tiny dot in this enormous world but solo travelling shows you that the entire world is your home, that you are in the position to enjoy and experience everything it has in store. You have the freedom to go wherever you want, do whatever you want to do. Traveling in groups may hold you back as you would need to consider other people’s preferences but when you go on a journey by yourself, it is a lot easier to make the most out of the experience.

Roll with the Punches and Maintain a Positive Attitude

Pack lightly and leave your high maintenance attitude back at home. If there’s one thing you’re going to learn from your solo adventures, it’s that you’re going to have a lot more fun if you let loose and just roll with the punches. Expect that there will be countless hardships along the way, but you can’t let any of these stop you from having a worthwhile trip.

Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining

No matter how tough things get, you have to remember there’s always a silver lining somewhere, even in the darkest of clouds. Looking at the positive side of things has become second nature among those who travel alone frequently. The tougher the challenges are, the tougher you become.

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Travel Matures Your Attitude

Solo traveling will definitely change you, more often than not, for the better. It changes your outlook, persona and attitude. It alters how you react to situations. It makes you more creative, more resourceful, more flexible, and more open to new ideas and experiences. You never would have thought that you could become this person, but traveling alone does this and more to you.

“Alone” and “Lonely” are Different

Solo traveling literally means you’re on your own. It means that you have no one to rely on but yourself. But this doesn’t make you forever alone. Along the way, you’re going meet wonderful people whom you will form strong bonds with. And because you’re not with anyone else, it makes it easier for you to meet and be open to new people. You’re always going to get the help that you need when you need it. This is one of the precious lessons you learn from traveling by yourself.

Patience is a Virtue

Traveling alone will do so much in testing your patience. As you can expect, there will be mishaps and bloopers throughout your journey—some will make you laugh, some will make you cry. But in the end of it all, you’re going to see how your patience will go a long way in ensuring things turn out for the better.

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Life is Full of Possibilities

When you’re alone, there’s a possibility that you’re going to spend a good chunk of your time watching and observing people around you. If you didn’t know any better, you’d find things that would make you turn green with envy. Why does this family look so happy? Why does this woman have all that jewelry and wardrobe full of fashionable clothes? How come this man is driving that luxury car? But just the same, spending time alone will give you time to reflect about all the blessings that you have in your life, and soon enough you’ll realize that comparing your life to others will only steal your joy. You just have to be thankful for all that you have.

Enjoy the Moment

Another priceless gem that you’ll learn from traveling alone is that life is indeed too short. If you’re lucky, you might live up to a hundred years old but still this won’t be enough to cover everything. Realizing this will make it easier for you to embrace change and not let fear hold you back from having the time of your life.

There are No Mistakes, but only Lessons to Learn in Life

In solo traveling, there are no mistakes, only lessons to learn. There’s no use having regrets over poor choices or decisions. What has happened has already happened. Just turn your attention to the bright side, and learn from that mishap so that you don’t stumble upon it again. Crying over spilled milk is just a waste of time and energy. You have a lot more to enjoy ahead on your journey.

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The Journey Matters As Much As the Destination

Don’t rush to get to your destination. Make the most out of your journey as well. This is where you’re going to experience new things, meet new people, learn life lessons. Every second of your travels matters just as much as arriving to your point of destination.

Nothing is Permanent Except Change

Solo travelers will learn at some point in their journey that the only way to travel to the fullest is to jump into the unknown. After all, traveling alone is the first step in going out of your comfort zone. And the farther you are away from it, the more you’ll get a taste of all those delicious experiences life has for you. You’ll learn that there’s no need to fear new experiences, instead they should be welcomed with open arms.

Not All Who Wander Are Lost

Traveling enriches your mind and your soul. It satiates your thirst for knowledge and experience. It expands your horizon, showing things that you’ve never seen before. Contrary to popular belief, wandering doesn’t mean that you’re lost. It may mean that you’re just on a quest to get to know yourself better. And it’s also during solo travel that you get to learn that getting lost isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes, it’s the best way to find yourself.

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It’s true that solo traveling can be a nerve-wracking experience. But once you get to experience what it’s like, you’ll be thankful that you mustered the courage to travel alone.

Featured photo credit: NAR studio via shutterstock.com

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)
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You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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