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19 Things Nothing Else But Travelling Alone Can Teach You

19 Things Nothing Else But Travelling Alone Can Teach You

I had this longing to get away from everything and everyone for a while. I had been suffering with an illness for about four years and after continuous negative news from doctors, exhaustion got the better of me. So, I quit my job, bought a one way ticket to the other side of Australia and went travelling for six months with no plan what so ever.

Here are 19 jewels of wisdom I learnt travelling alone and now apply to my everyday life back home in Perth:

1. Depending purely on yourself 

Sometimes we don’t realise how much people can influence us in our every day life, whether it’s our family, friends, partner, collogues or social surroundings. I had been putting too much emphasis on other people’s opinions of what I should do, over listening to my own voice. Travelling on my own was the first time I can really say I truly depended on myself more then ever without feeling bad about it or having to explain myself.

2. Learning a new culture

We can become so accustom to our surroundings, home and society that we operate subconsciously without thinking about whether it’s helping us grow or not. Embracing other cultures and ways of living can broaden our lifestyle views. On the contrary, I grew a deep appreciation for what I had back home like being able to visit my family any time I wanted.

3. Making new friends outside your circle

I became one of those tourists who made sure I let shopkeepers know I wasn’t a local. Not that they asked or anything. Amazing how quickly you can make friends that way by just talking about yourself. Awkward. I was nervous checking out new places with someone I didn’t know. There is nothing like hanging out with that friend (back home) who you can be 100% percent yourself around, however it was exciting to do something I hadn’t done before. I was shown amazing sites, forests, hidden away caves and made memories for a lifetime.

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4. Freedom

The freedom was the best part of travelling alone, doing what I wanted, when I wanted, how I wanted. Whether we are travelling or not this is the ultimate feeling. However, once back home, our daily demands, responsibilities and the people in our lives can be the cause of freedom being a mere fantasy. The feeling of freedom when you are travelling or on holiday, I believe is something you can feel in everyday life. And it’s because of this experience that I pushed towards that belief and implemented it into my daily attitude giving myself more time to do the things I love doing. I feel I am actually living MY life now.

5. Hearing your inner voice

Being alone most of the time, you can hear your thoughts a lot more! Even though I did spend time listening to my thoughts back home, being completely alone for a while heightened them. I was able to listen a lot more and see aspects of myself that I had ignored or not even noticed. It definitely sharpened the importance of digging deeper into myself and really focusing on my inner thoughts, habits and reactions to life.

6. Re-inventing yourself or truly being yourself

No one knows you, so it’s a great opportunity to try that style you think about but haven’t had the courage to try! Or is that just something I daydreamed about? I had been in the corporate world for many years but secretly I wished I could embrace the beach hippie in me at times. Oh and I finally did. I went to the beach almost everyday, left the salty water in my hair for days, wore comfy clothes and my jingle bell anklet. I absolutely enjoyed not having to worry about how I looked for anyone or anything. It certainly made me realise how much effort I put in for people and work, a habit of which I have now definitely broken.

7. Going without make-up

For those who wear make-up everyday, this is such a great opportunity to let your skin breath. I took advantage of letting go of my ‘need’ for make-up as I wore it everyday for work for years and it became second nature. At first it was a vulnerable feeling wearing no make-up to places that I would usually wear it, but after some time I felt liberated and my need for it daily is no longer. I wear it when I want, not because I have too. And do you know how much more time you have on your hands when you don’t have to put on another face? Time gained equals more adventures.

8. Break from Facebook

I took one month off Facebook completely closing my account on my travels. Rather then upload all my adventures and check in everywhere, I wrote about it in my journal. Spending time in nature without the use of Facebook or my phone on many occasions, became a clear indication of how much I was using it mindlessly and missing out on what’s going on around me. It was liberating to disconnect for a while and be content with the moment, with the view and with my own thoughts. The mind needs to be free at times to be creative, to think clearly and to refresh.

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9. Doing all the things you have been putting off

There is more time on your hands to do some of the things you put aside due to restrictions and responsibilities at home. Depending on your interests and hobbies, this can be a great way to throw yourself into your passions using inspiration from your travels. I spent so much time reading and writing which actually assisted in my pursuing of it now.

10. Reassessing your life

I wanted to study for years and also write, but due to focusing on Real Estate, I kept postponing it. Whilst being I was away I made the decision to go after my dreams and stop waiting for the perfect moment. Re-assessing my life helped me let go of what did not serve purpose in my life anymore and having the courage to pursue what I believed did.

11. Experience and memories only you know about

We love sharing memories and experiences with others, but lets face it when we share our stories of travelling with most people they are hardly interested. Doing things that only you know about is actually a wild feeling. It’s like a friendship between you and yourself that no one understands, experiences only you feel. Keeping them close to your heart is sometimes better then sharing. I definitely built a better relationship with myself and smile at all the wonderful things I have done, on my own.

12. Trusting yourself to think and decide for yourself

I was always someone who gained advise from others who I trusted and whilst their advise wasn’t ‘wrong’, it was my need for it that kept me away from doing what was in my heart to do. I didn’t trust myself enough to follow through with ideas that I had, also leaning on my career as an excuse many times. Until I went travelling alone, I wasn’t aware of how much I relied on others rather then myself. Trusting my inner intuitions and what I think is best for me has assisted in my health, physically and mentally. The unknown doesn’t seem so scary now. Sometimes we want people to advise us because we are too fearful of taking a step out on our own, but what if what they are saying is the reason you prevent yourself from living your dreams?

13. Overcoming the fear of being alone

Doing everything by yourself for a period of time shows you how much you really can be happy, content and safe in your own company when you want to be. It breaks the tendency to just ‘hang’ with people due to not wanting to be alone. I will admit, there were periods of time where it felt awful on Saturday nights with no one but myself, however, I got through just fine and I became more engaged in my writing, reading and music. Sometimes over socialising is a distraction from doing what we really need to do on our own; self-development.

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14. Patience

From observation, in today’s world patience is a characteristic in the human being that is being very quickly replaced with the need for everything now. Whether it is success, the ‘perfect’ body, money, overcoming battles, relationships, there is urgency in our social surroundings to scrap patience and rush through life. I wasn’t working and I didn’t know what the next day would bring or whether I would have enough money to keep travelling. As I committed myself to being open to whatever happens is meant to be, patience grew. I was able to grasp the importance of patience and put it to practice.

15. People back home

Being apart from loved ones is difficult but it is also a great way to strengthen the bonds you have. It was also an eye opener to how much I gave myself to some people who took our friendship for granted. When it comes to friendships quality over quantity is best and the time away really set that in stone. I came back uninterested in friendships that were filled with neediness, control and drama. My time is precious and I finally took the courage in setting barriers against the life suckers. Amazing how time away alone can really open your eyes to unhealthy friendships that were right under your nose for a long time.

16. Gratitude

The amount of gratitude I experienced came on many levels. I really appreciated the opportunity to be able to travel as well as what I already had back home. I met a woman on my travels that really placed emphasis on the importance of taking the time to be thankful for things in your life daily and how you will receive more by doing so. Taking it on board straight away, I started voicing my thank you to life and looking for things to be thankful for. A deep appreciation for what I have each day, the people I meet and the challenges that come my way has opened my heart to the blessings that are existent every single day.

17. Time to re-focus on your health

As we are always growing and changing, so do our bodies. Different circumstance in our life may bring about better or worse health. For many years I suffered with an ongoing illness, doctors and specialists had no answers for me and I grew exhausted from the never ending bad news. I was leading a healthy life but something was missing. Part of the reason I decided to travel alone was to explore other avenues of gaining health after researching stories of people who had made amazing comebacks after serious illnesses. I spent majority of my time focusing on my health, relaxing, distressing, researching, trying out new foods, meeting people in the health industry and again being open to other ways. It was a big wake up call to stretch myself and knowledge in nutrition and the viscous poison of stress! Let’s just say I don’t suffer with illness anymore.

18. Not caring what anyone thinks

As I walking down to the beach one particular day, in short shorts and my pale white skin I felt insecurity setting in as I compared myself to the beach babes that were like…everywhere! Thankfully a wonderful and very true thought struck me, why do I care about what others think of me? And how do I even know if people think about me? I mean, conceited much? It was in that moment I made a choice to push aside those limiting thoughts and be proud of who I am, even if I have cellulite wobbling around. Beaching it on the Gold Coast daily, with that new insight made it so much more enjoyable.

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19. Going with the flow

I seriously got a really big dose of what it feels like to go with the flow. Every time I feel fear or stress creeping in, I think back to this adventure. It has become a reference point and reminder of how letting go and being open to whatever happens, can do wonders in your life.

This was a decision that changed my life for the better. Doing something completely for myself, out of my comfort zone has bought about expansion and awareness.Try it for yourself and add to the list!

Happy travels!

 

Featured photo credit: http://photopin.com/search/gold-coast

Featured photo credit: photopin via photopin.com

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Anjelica Ilovi

Writes about mental perseverance, brain health and joyful living

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Last Updated on January 15, 2019

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

Many of us feel awkward talking to strangers. I’m a very outgoing person, even though I sometimes feel uncomfortable walking up to someone and asking a question or starting a conversation. I consider myself pretty high up on the extrovert meter. So what is it that makes us pause and become worried or anxious about talking to people we don’t know?

In this article, we will discuss why we feel this way as well as some tips on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Step right up, don’t be shy!

Why We Feel Awkward Talking to Strangers

The next time you feel uncomfortable talking to a stranger, tell yourself that’s completely normal. There are numerous reasons why it’s actually natural to feel awkward talking to strangers:

Our Stress Levels Rise Around Strangers

Numerous studies have show that our levels of cortisol go up when we are around strangers.[1] Cortisol is the hormone inside of us which produces stress responses.[2]
So there you go, right off the bat you can see part of your standard response to strangers is due to a chemical reaction!

A very interesting by product of increased cortisol is that it makes us less empathetic. More than likely this can be traced to our evolution. The increase in the cortisol and the corresponding decrease in empathy makes us want to stay away from strangers. We are biologically wired to feel concern around strangers.

Evolution Taught Us to Be Wary

Evolution has also taught us to be wary of strangers in general. Humans as a whole have spent a large chunk of their history banded together in small protective groups. We did this in order to help protect each other and maximize resources.

When you think about it in this context, outsiders to our small groups or strangers are considered potential threats. Fear of strangers is common across almost all human cultures.

Culturally Conditioned

We can also thank our society for helping us feel uncomfortable and sometimes afraid of strangers. The term “stranger danger” is something most of us can relate to either growing up or raising kids. Or both.

I remember hearing this from my parents, mostly about not getting in someone’s car I didn’t know. And as the father of 2 teenage girls, you can be sure I’ve talked to them about this very concept more times that they want to hear.

The thought that strangers can be dangerous is built into us as it is. Toss in the amplification of the media on strangers doing things such as kidnapping kids and it takes it to an even higher level.

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Now that we’ve reviewed some of the reasons why we are nervous, let’s look at why you should talk to strangers more.

Benefits of Getting over the Awkwardness

Let’s take a quick look at some of the advantages of how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward. These are some high level benefits of talking to strangers.

1. Broadens Your Network

After you talk to someone, you didn’t know previously they become someone you know at least a little bit. This alone helps broaden your network of people you know. This is helpful in many ways whether it is work related or socially related.

2. Improves Your Communication Skills

I am a huge proponent of the value of solid communication skills and have written about it often. The more you talk to people, especially people you don’t know, the better your communication skills become.

Interacting with a wider variety of people will bring the added benefit of improving your communication skills.

3. Continually Learning

So many of us don’t actively seek to learn new things. This is one of the primary keys to staying engaged in life and our own personal self fulfillment.

Almost every time I speak to someone I didn’t know previously, I’ve learned something new. When we speak to strangers, it pushes us out of our comfort zones and we tend to learn new things.

4. Increases Self Confidence

Every time we learn to do something we were previously anxious about, we feel better about ourselves.

Forcing ourselves to talk to strangers will lead to increased self confidence. As we get more and more comfortable doing something that previously made us feel awkward, our self confidence will go up and up.

So, how to talk to strangers to reap these benefits?

How to Talk to Strangers

Here are some tips to on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

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1. Say Hello

Putting “say hello” first may seem a bit obvious but let’s take a deeper look. Much of the social awkwardness when speaking to strangers is simply breaking the ice. The first words that will engage someone.

Most people will respond when someone says hello or hi to them. And those that don’t, you probably don’t want to talk to anyway.

Practice being the person that opens the door to a conversation. Say hello.

2. Ask About Them

Something that I have noticed over the years is that people love to talk about themselves. Even fairly private people tend to open up when asked about events in their lives.

You can ask leading questions that get people to talk about themselves and recent events. Things like recent movies watched or the summer vacation are great to get someone talking.

As a father, I also know that people love to talk about their kids. Asking about kids is a fairly easy topic to bring up and in general, most people will expound upon all the great things their kids do or are involved with.

3. Just Do It

One of the biggest reasons we don’t do things we want to or know we should is because we overthink it. Quit thinking about it so much and just do it.

When you give yourself the time to analyze every little angle about a situation, you also give plenty of time to talk yourself out of it. You’ll wind up thinking what if this happens or what if that happens.

Try to force yourself to jump right in without thinking about it too much. Whenever I have done this, I always feel great about it afterwards, no matter how it turned out.

4. Don’t Take It Personal

One of the greatest lessons in life I ever learned was don’t take anything personally. We all go through life with our own sets of experiences and see things through our own lens. The way people react to different situations has almost nothing to do with us. It has to do with previous experiences and the way people feel about things other than us.

When someone’s reaction isn’t what you’d hoped or expected, chances are it has nothing to do with you. Remember that and keep it in context.

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5. Get a Chuckle If Possible

I used the word chuckle purposely because it makes me laugh. In my opinion, it’s one of those funny words. We all like to laugh because it makes us feel good. And when someone makes us laugh, we typically remember those people in a positive light.

One of the best ways to make a conversation easy and free flowing is to get some laughter going. It doesn’t mean you have to be the master joke teller or anything. See if you can work in a way to make the person you are talking to get a smile or some laughter in. In fact, laughing at yourself maybe a nice try.

6. Detach

A great feeling is when you don’t mind which way something turns out, that you will be fine no matter what happens. Kind of like when I watch my two favorite football teams play against each other. I don’t really care who wins, I just want a fun game.

Treat talking to strangers the same way. You don’t really care how the conversation goes because you are detaching from the outcome. Make it a fun time with yourself and if the conversation goes well, awesome! If not then no big deal, move on.

7. Share Your Stories

Well, all like to feel connected to other people. And many times we wind up hanging out with people that we have things in common with. No surprise here.

To help with how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward, tell stories that have commonalities with the person you are talking to. Kids are an easy one. I have a daughter who was a competitive cheerleader and now plays club volleyball. I have instant connection and stories with strangers I speak with who have kids that play sports. It’s easy to relate to.

So when you are speaking to a stranger and you have a story or mutual connection point, bring it up.

8. Give a Compliment

Almost everyone likes hearing a compliment, whether they admit to it or not. As a general rule, we don’t give out enough compliments. It’s amazing how one small remark someone tosses your way about how good you look can literally make your entire day.

When you are speaking with someone you don’t know, see if you can work a compliment in. Nothing creepy here. Not a good idea to tell someone you just met that they are the prettiest or handsomest person you ever met. However, if you can share how you like their tattoo or shoes or something like that, it will help put the conversation into an easy going, smiling place.

9. Relax Your Body Language

If you go into a situation all worried and nervous, it shows on your body. Your shoulders are tensed up, there’s a look of consternation on your face, things like that.

When you engage a stranger in conversation, make it a point to relax your body language. Take a deep breath before you engage the person, let your body relax, and put a smile on your face. This will help relax you and it has the added benefit of putting the other person more at ease.

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If they see that you are relaxed, it helps them relax. Plus having open, engaging body language is very conducive to inviting someone to open up into a conversation with you.

10. Practice, Practice, Practice

Like everything else in life, talking to strangers gets easier with practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Make it a point to talk to several strangers each week and it will definitely help you relax as you do it more and more.

After a while, it will become something you don’t even think about, you just do it. And that takes all of the awkwardness out of being in these type situations.

The Bottom Line

As we have seen, it is perfectly natural to feel awkward talking to strangers. We are biologically built that way and we have our own society constantly warning us how dangerous it is. It’s no wonder we feel awkward talking to strangers!

There are numerous benefits to learning to be more comfortable talking to strangers. See if you can employ some of the techniques mentioned to learn how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Once you start practicing speaking with strangers more often and utilizing some of the tips, you will become more comfortable doing so. This in turn will lead to a learned new skill and increased self confidence.

Remember, everyone you know was a stranger at one time. Now get out there and make some new friends.

More Resources About Strengthening Communication Skills

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

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