My Traveling Paradox

So a few weeks ago, I was having this problem with my shyness. There’s a cute boy in my one psychology class. I’ve stared at him, probably obviously, since day one. So yes, I’m a creep. At the beginning of the semester, I was in this complicated thing with my ex. I guess we’re still pretty complicated. Anyway, it took some time for me to decide to talk to new guys. For about half a dozen different classes, I would try to get up my nerve to say hi to him.. and fail. I just couldn’t imagine what to talk to him about or what goes after the ‘hey, what’s up?’ ‘nothing, you’ ‘nothing’ conversation. Now listen, I have anxiety – Generalized Anxiety Disorder to be precise. I’ve had countless panic attacks and need medication to calm me down some times. After the one class, I was shaking, heart pounding, and feeling like I needed one of my pills. I realized I was crazy. I was on the way to having a panic attack over worrying about how to say “hi” to a boy. A BOY.

I had told some friends about this and every one of them (at different times and places) all related it back to travel and my courage to travel solo. They can’t understand how I’m so nonchalant about traveling the world by myself. How I could backpack Europe by myself or with (what started out as) a stranger (and turned into a wonderful lifetime friend.) How I can plan to spend a year in Australia by myself with no worries. How I don’t feel strange to go have lunch by myself. How I’ve lived alone in my apartment for 2 years. How I’m planning to move to San Diego for the summer – by myself. And then in a hostel in France, I can laugh and have fun with people I met minutes ago.

Nice, France

So here is my conundrum, why is it that I can easily go up to a stranger in a foreign country to make friends.. but I can’t say ‘hi’ to a boy here in the states? I don’t have any worries or doubts or fears of traveling alone somewhere where I don’t speak the language. I don’t mind, no, I LOVE being free on a topless or nude beach. I even like flirting with guys there. So this is my traveling paradox: when I am in another country or new place, I am free and confident to be myself. I absolutely love saying exactly what’s on my mind and talking to whoever I want to. I used to think it was similar to that whole YOLO phrase going around but it’s more than that. It’s more than just ‘hey, I’m leaving to go to another country tomorrow and I’ll never see you again so I don’t care if you don’t like what I say.’ I wish I could describe it better. It also has to do with seeing all these amazing new things every day and since you’re alone, you have to be blab to someone about it! And then there’s also because I’m in hostels where it’s such an amazing welcoming feeling. Everyone is there with similar purpose: to see something new or visit a lovely place or just live life. It’s a whole way of life – hosteling. With all of us having a similar outlook on life, we’re freer to open up and talk and make friends.

What I need to learn is how to get that back: my confidence. Not for this specific boy or anything. I want to be the person I loved while traveling. I was happier and carefree. I smiled and smelled the roses a lot more often. Maybe that’s why I love traveling – because of who I am when I travel. Either way, I’m hoping to turn back into the girl who could start a conversation with anyone at the bar – even the cutest guy. I don’t like this girl who hyperventilates over thinking about say ‘hi’ to some guy.

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