Fake it till you make it!

No, I’m not talking about faking a you know what ladies in the you know where gentleman *ahem*.

I’m talking about confidence

Many people tell me that I’m far braver and more confident than they could ever be and that they could never cope with backpacking solo. Pffft. I’m not confident, I’m not brave and I easily feel vulnerable. The trick is to grow some metaphorical cajones, convince yourself they’re real and go for it!

I’m scared to death of Africa but I’m going for it running full speed and preparing to jump.

Not everything in life feels comfortable or safe and you’re not always sure you can do things but I guarantee that more often than not you’ll swim instead of sink; unless you can’t swim, in which case I’ll see you at the bottom on one of my dives 🙂

You wonder how you’ll cope with eating alone or how you’ll feel when you join a day trip tour and realise that every other person going are in couples. The truth is it won’t be easy; I can’t lie. And this is where you have to learn to fake it and fake it good…

There is an age old quote that says ‘smile and the world smiles with you’ but I’ll adapt that and say ‘smile and your brain is so thick it will think you’re smiling for real and release happy hormones’. Fake it and your brain will make it for you 🙂

So here’s a couple of statements to force your head to listen to your mouth when you get asked the dreaded questions by family and friends….

You can’t go travelling, you’ll die!’

Response: “I’m just as likely to get glassed down town on a Saturday night” (don’t say ‘run over by a car…apparently it doesn’t have the same ‘scare factor’). If you want the ‘smartass’ answer then tell them you’ve been dying since the day you were born; it usually shuts them up with the cheesiness factor. The likelihood is you’ll never even come close to real danger (unless you’re attempting to cross the road infront of scooters)  so start believing this….I was in Thailand when the red-shirt protests kicked off and I saw nothing.

You’re going solo? You’ll get attacked’

Response: “Everyone does it, it’s easy.  Yes mum I will e-mail you constantly.  No mum, I won’t drink that much.  And you know I have common sense so why are we even having this discussion?”  What they will quickly realise when you’re away is that you won’t e-mail (too busy having fun), you will drink (partying with new found friends are one of the highlights) and common sense will eventually kick in but it’s not always the first thing that springs to mind.  Use the common sense that you’ve promised your parents you have and, like I told Backpackerbanter, listen to your gut.  When something’s not right, you will feel it and when you do; leave.

‘How can you eat alone? You’ve never done it before!’

Response: “I’ll meet other backpackers and eat with them; I’ll never REALLY be alone.  Besides, I have my ipod, a book and a pair of eyes to watch the world go by”.  Listen to your words; they are true.  If you don’t manage to catch some company at your hostel and go for dinner then listen to music, read your book whilst you’re waiting or watch the drunk guy fall into the pancake stand (true story).  Failing that, grab some street food (made IN the street, not on the street floor I might add) and take a walk around the local area…you might get stitch but at least you won’t be lonely!

 What about you?  Do you have to psych yourself up for certain things on the road – what are they and what do you tell yourself?

Leave a Reply


  1. Oddette

    I had to deal with some of the same when I went to live in Germany, and again when I decided to stay. The “You’re doing what?!” and “Aren’t you scared?!” comments.

    My mental response was “Don’t remind me” but outwardly I would tell them about all the good things I was expecting. For me it came down to how badly I wanted it. It’s perfectly OK to be petrified, but if you want something badly enough you’ll see beyond beyond scared and just go for it!

    Kind of like you are right now.

  2. Nic

    Good on your for fighting the good fight against the myth that solo travellers are born brave. I clearly remember my whole body shaking with anxiety and fear and excitement the first time I hopped on a plane alone for a 2 month Asian adventure. It took me the best part of three days to pep talk myself out of worrying but before I knew it, I was free and loving it.
    I agree that putting yourself out there despite your fear, and facing challenges with a big toothy grin is a great way to trick yourself until you actually let go and enjoy it.

  3. Oddette – Exactly! You tell people one thing but feel something completely different and you’re right, if you want something bad enough, you will learn to get over the fear because you know that something bigger and better is waiting on the other side for you! 🙂

  4. Nic – Thanks for stopping by! You sound just like me haha. I think if, as you say, you keep telling yourself that everything’s going to be okay, you will eventually accept it and learn to love travelling and everything it has to entrail 🙂 Even with this second trip coming up I still feel like a bag of nerves 🙂

  5. great great post! honest and completely reaffirms what i believe in. it’s really all about being confident, isn’t it? being scared sh*tless and doing it anyway. greetings from the philippines! 🙂

  6. Paul – thanks for stopping by; lovely to have you here =) That’s exactly it! Being scared sh*tless and doing it anyway – well said =) So true!

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  8. I really liked this post, especially the part about eating alone. For some reason, this is the one thing that really freaks me out about being alone. At a bar – no problem, but a restaurant…eep! I just don’t want people to feel sorry for me or think that i’m lonely. But the truth is, it’s nowhere as bad as you think. Books are definitely great for distracting yourself!

  9. Jess – I’m not going to lie, eating by yourself in a restaurant isn’t always fun but you have to think ‘who cares?’ You’ll probably never see them again. Besides, I’d much rather be alone with my meal and a book than sat at a table with a bunch of people I don’t want to speak to 😀