“Never did the world make a queen of a girl who hides in houses and dreams without traveling.” Roman Payne, The Wanderess
When I was a kid, I was terrified to go anywhere alone.
For some parents, this fear would be welcomed, but for my dad it was slightly inconvenient. Particularly when I wouldn’t even go to a public bathroom just a few feet away without him accompanying me. (An awkward situation for a single father.) I wasn’t necessarily afraid of getting snatched up or lost, I was more afraid of feeling awkward and unsure of myself. God forbid I ever had to ask someone to give me directions!
As I grew up however, my dad consistently stretched my comfort zone. Sometimes with small nudges, and other times with huge pushes – like the time he insisted I do a back-flip off the diving board at a public pool. That’ll knock the shyness and awkwardness right out of any kid. My entire life I’ve heard him echo, “It’s not like you’ll ever see any of these people again!” Hard to argue with that.
The more he took us traveling around the world, the more I realized I didn’t need to be terrified. That in fact, talking to people was invigorating, and sometimes experiencing the world solitary was all the more eye-opening . Of course, a solo traveler (particularly a woman) needs to be aware of their surroundings – another lesson taught by my father – but they don’t need to be afraid of traveling alone, and of taking risks.
Since college I’ve taken several trips alone, including to the United Kingdom.
As well as attended many events as a “single” entity. The most interesting being the Much Music Video Awards in the summer of 2015, where I made friends with a wonderful couple from Newfoundland. (Waiting in line for nine hours in uncharacteristically scorching Toronto-heat definitely fosters a unique bond between strangers.)
As I was walking to the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) yesterday, a massive 2-week event that takes place in Toronto, my dad called to heckle me about my alma mater’s football team. However, when he found out I was venturing to the CNE by myself his tone changed slightly. Just days earlier I had ranted on Facebook about being harassed by construction workers while walking to work, so understandably he was concerned. He also thought it strange I was going to a fairly social event (the CNE is usually a couple’s paradise) alone. I quickly informed him all of my friends were busy, and that in fact, I had wanted to go alone anyway.
He sighed, “You are my daughter. Not afraid.”
To be honest, I had a fantastic time at the CNE yesterday. Of course, it wasn’t the same fun I would’ve had with friends or my boyfriend, but it was still pretty awesome. I was able to take photographs and record some footage (for this blog no less) without distractions, worry, or haste. I carried on conversations with the shopkeepers inside the crowded centre for as long as I wanted because there was no one pushing me along. (I also got many discounts this way.)
When I wanted to go see the farm area where the cows and pigs were, I went! When I wanted to stop wandering the grounds and listen to the performer from Florida who played eight different instruments at the same time like Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins, I did! And it was mind-blowing!
The fact is, many people are afraid to do things alone, nonetheless travel alone. Blogger, Kristin Addis from Be My Travel Muse writes, “If you had asked me five years ago if I would ever travel alone, I would have immediately said, “No way. That can’t be safe, it must be lonely, and I’d get so bored.” Before I started traveling, I was scared of even the idea of eating dinner alone!…The biggest hurdle is getting over the fear: fear of being alone, unsafe, bored, and scared.”
Here’s some homework for the week, go somewhere by yourself. Nothing crazy like Cabo, but to the movies, or dinner. Maybe grab your camera and take a long walk, or a book and go sit at the park.
As cliche as this sounds I just have to say it: Don’t be afraid to venture solo. You won’t regret it.
To see my trip to the CNE, check out the video below, and follow me on Instagram for more!