Why you should go on a Solo Trip & what I learnt from mine [Part 2]
So in Part 1 I talked about five things I learnt from my solo trip to Europe earlier this summer.
I talked about getting used to listening to my inner voice, how I realised what ‘boundaries’ meant to me, how I engaged in overthinking constantly, as well as my reflections on the need for perfection and the unnecessary stresses I tend to put on myself back home.
Here in Part 2, I explore 5 more reflections.
Being at ease with spending
Like a lot of people, I do have hang ups about money.
I always think I “should” be spending it a certain way. I should save more of it, blah blah. I overthink whenever I want to purchase something.
When I used to travel in the past, I’d do currency conversions and compare meals or whatever I want to buy with their counterparts back home. And if things are too “expensive”, I avoided them completely.
This time round, although I struggled with rail ticket prices in London (they really are expensive!), with everything else – I indulged myself whenever I wanted to.
Saw a restaurant I liked? Wanted a coffee on an impulse? Spotted some gorgeous accessories in the shop? I went in and got all of them.
It was such a treat!
After I felt something shift inside of me as well and I got more comfortable with spending. No more hangups.
Learning to truly not give an F
In other words, to have a healthy level of self-esteem.
Interestingly, most places I went, I was quite possibly the only Asian in the entire place/train/restaurant, insert whatever.
Now, I usually don’t care about this sort of thing. But recent events around the world have made me slightly more alert I guess. And friends keep telling me stuff, to be careful and things like that.
Initially, it was quite difficult to be myself. I felt self-conscious. Whenever someone noticed me or looked my way, I felt embarrassed.
I was uncomfortable. I felt ugly.
To add to that, I was more dressed down than I usually was and felt I didn’t look too good. I avoided eye contact with people.
I was actually walking around with all these thoughts and feelings for a good few days. Until it dawned on me that the reason why I felt this way is cause I wasn’t comfortable with myself, I didn’t like myself.
I judged myself and felt others were judging me too.
As the days went on, I made a conscious effort to stop myself whenever such thoughts entered my head and instead replaced them with more compassionate ones.
It was hard at first, of course. But over time, it just got better. So much so that I started looking people in the eye, smiling, greeting others, asking for help and striking up conversations.
It felt wonderful!
Projecting my thoughts onto others
A continuation from the point above. When you are in a foreign land, everything is pretty open to your interpretation.
Your reaction to and perspective of the environment largely depends on your emotional state and your perception of things.
So if someone stares at you/doesn’t smile/a restaurant has poor service, what do you think of it? Do you immediately start taking it personally and think the person is thinking horrid stuff about you? Or do you brush it off to them having a bad day or whatever, that has got nothing to do with you?
If you take a step back and notice the content of your thoughts, especially those concerning others, do you realise how much we assume about others?
So for instance, there could be a zillion reasons why someone is looking at you. They could be looking at you with curiosity, admiring you, wondering how to strike up a conversation or they might be thinking of something that has nothing to do with you!
When you project your thoughts onto people, you are actually jumping into conclusions about how they are, what they are thinking and basically assuming it is what you think it is.
And then you react according to your (inaccurate) beliefs and perceptions.
You will never know what exactly people have on their minds, especially complete strangers.
The constant negative judgments/conclusions/assumptions about someone’s personality isn’t healthy and it really does you (or them) no favours.
FOMO & the constant need to compare
This came up quite abit for me during the trip, and funny thing it was always a physical appearance thing.
Girl walks past – oh she has nicer hair than me, she has nicer pants, she has a nicer getup. Etc.
It’s fine if those were just fleeting thoughts that disappeared, but no, my inner critic always kicked in immediately after with all sorts of negative judgments. And it made me feel so awful about myself.
It dawned on me that I was exactly like that back home. I judged myself harshly and constantly put myself down.
Things that you tend to compare yourself with others on are things that you tend to judge yourself the most harshly on.
Overtime, I got pretty worn out by my inner critic. And instead of comparing, I would always counter whatever negative with something neutral or positive.
I’d always counter each comment with a “so what” or a “that’s not true” and find opposing evidence for it.
It took practice but I realised that after doing this for a couple of days/weeks, I felt a lesser need to compare, I appreciated differences more, and I felt even more confident about myself!
You get clearer with things back home
Being in a different environment and viewing your reality back home sometimes gives it a different perspective.
I had new feelings/desires to pursue things that I’ve always wanted to.
It pretty much hit me one day as I was walking around the streets of Madrid, dying from the sweltering heat that I needed a career change (this one has been a long time coming).
I also had a big epiphany about how I haven’t really been taking care of my inner self/soul and need to incorporate self-care more into my life.
This interestingly co-incided with the solar eclipse in August!
I realised that I have been carrying around inner beliefs that weren’t helpful and that were coming up during the trip as well.
I also realised I needed to be more in tune with my feminine energy; to love, receive and care more.
That my lifestyle at home was very “masculine”, very action-driven, full of do-do-do, more-more-more, hustle, hustle, hustle!
My constant tiredness on the trip also taught me to pay attention more to my body; as I came to the realisation that I wasn’t resting well at home and overthinking a lot of decisions.
Funnily, it also made me appreciate my life back home much more. Before this, I was pretty resentful of life in my country, but the trip taught me to be appreciative and grateful.
My solo trip was a wonderful experience. I would give anything to experience it all over again. I’m already planning one for next year as I am typing this, ha!
It was money well-spent. And the realisations that I had about myself and about life was invaluable.
It’s made me love myself more, be more confident, less anxious, more “feminine”, less judgmental, less negative and to see people differently.
This trip had to happen.
And I’m so glad it did!
What to do next?
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With 10 years of experience as a Researcher (MSc) in Psychology, Neuroscience, Mental Health, Consumer and Organisational Behaviour; I help action-oriented, time-strapped people and solopreneurs crush their inner critics, navigate toxic workplaces and relationships and build their self-esteem so that you can have the freedom, happiness and confidence you desire. I spend the rest of my time daydreaming and downing cups of tea/coffee – my life’s vice.