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?