You are traveling solo for the first time, in Reykjavik, the most expensive city in the world. The hostel is busy, with creaky beds and cranky guests. Silence is your first choice of introduction, but that won’t make the trip fun. There is no excitement being stuck in your own head for two weeks. How best to make friends in a hostel?
So you say hello to everyone who stays in your dorm style room. No conversations are struck. Then again, you don’t want to pry. You sit in the lounge, offering your company to anyone who walks by. Then again, you are writing on your computer so you seem closed off and uninterested.
You try the communal kitchen. Make hot chocolate and a cup of tomato soup and sit at the center table and wait for more hungry people. Then again, you bring a book and read and come off as inexplicably inside another world. You read for hours without noticing anyone, even though plenty and have come through. One even offered homemade soup and you said no. Why say no? You’ve got to get better than this.
Sit at the bar and talk, someone from home suggests. No book. You would try, but you don’t have ten dollars for a beer, or sixteen for your favorite cocktail. How to make friends in a city where everything costs a pretty penny. So you go to dinner alone. That’s depressing. And lonely. So you wait for others to talk to you. Fine, but if you always wait for someone else, people aren’t going to stick around. You make one friend. She came up to you. You go out to dinner, you go to a drag show together. She leaves the next day. You talk to an older woman while in line to catch a tour bus. You never see her again. After a week has gone by, you’re still alone.
Because you won’t go out and try harder. You are afraid people won’t like you, but what does it matter if you’re never going to see them again? You sit in the lounge, staring at a stack of bright yellow visitor’s guides. Remember you have a bottle of red wine from the duty free. Realize wine is a great bonding mechanism. So you head downstairs to find people to share it with you.
In the lobby, you freeze.
“Hi, I have wine, want some for free?” Sounds too good to be true, and a little creepy. Maybe sit in the lounge and offer it to anyone who walks by. Or sit in the kitchen and offer it to people making dinner. Maybe sit in bed and drink it alone and get drunk and use that to go meet people by the bar. You consider it, but its not authentic. You want people to like you for you.
You know there is no easy answer. Rather, the answer is easy but hard to follow through on. Talk. Put yourself out there. For just a little while, don’t be the quiet you. Be the you who wants company. Be the you interested in the stories of all the people bustling across the lobby. Be a fearless you, a confident you, a better you.
Have you ever heard of the Yes Theory? I hadn’t either, until a friend mentioned it to me during a Skype session a couple weeks ago. I looked it up and ever since, my perspective on life has changed. The Yes Theory was started by four guys who decided to start living life by seeking discomfort. By seeking discomfort, by saying Yes, they have had experiences we can only dream of! They have also met countless amazing people, and their blind faith in humanity has risen exponentially. Here is a link to their video explaining their journey: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_g6_yLNSg-c.
The Yes Theory is all about confronting what makes you afraid, or uncomfortable. Now, I have mentioned in previous blog posts that I have anxiety. It used to be much worse than it is now, but going to college far from home and studying abroad helped me grow. I’ve recently done some spiritual soul searching and have come to recognize that I’ve actually been dealing with my anxiety in a very unhealthy way. For a long time now, I have buried the anxiety by telling myself that everything is fine and I’m not actually nervous. Fake it till you make it, right? No. Bad idea. This ignores the anxiety and allows it to fester while you “pretend” to be fine. This always comes back around, by causing the anxiety to build and build until a breakdown occurs. You suddenly can’t handle anything. This is NOT the way to live, and I realize that now.
Teal Swan, a strong spiritual and intuitive, always says that confronting your feelings head on is the best way to deal with them. I recently started applying this idea to my anxiety and it has worked wonders. I am learning to sit with my anxiety and accept it as what is, but not as something that defines me. This allows the anxiety to be felt while also keeping it at bay, because you know it is not an end all be all. There is emotional freedom in letting yourself accept the hardest, most negative sides of your personality. By accepting them, you take control, and are then able to guide the feelings to the backdrop, after they have their moment to shine.
Now, how does this apply to Yes Theory?
If Yes Theory is about seeking discomfort, then accepting fear and anxiety is the first step. You have to first recognize what you are feeling, and what is holding you back, before you can push your boundaries. For example, I have always been afraid of deep water. However, this past week, I went camping in the Adirondacks and learned to kayak. I fell in love. One night, my brother suggested I go midnight kayaking on the lake. At first, I felt resistance, because I am afraid of deep water, especially at night time. I first sat with that initial fear and let myself feel it, and then I said Yes. And it was one of the most peaceful experiences of my life. The water was still and looked like black glass. There were no clouds, and a full moon peeking out from behind the mountains. The sky was a dome and I was encased in a beauty I would never had known existed if I’d said no.
First is acceptance of your fear. Second is the acceptance of discomfort. Third is an experience that changes perspective. The more you practice the first two steps, the easier your life can incorporate the third.
I want to say thank you to Teal Swan and the Yes Theory guys for helping me on a path to change. I have so much planned for my life, and this is the way I want to live it. Stay tuned for more Yes Theory moments during my trip this autumn/winter!
This autumn and winter I will be traveling around Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. At first, this trip was only going to be two weeks long, and spent only in Iceland. Then I had a realization. If I am going abroad, I need to do it for a longer time. Two weeks is barely enough time to get to know a culture and make friends. As a traveler with some anxiety, it is also barely enough time to get comfortable enough in a place to enjoy it. Once I realized this, I set my mind on a longer trip. I added nine weeks in Norway and one week in Gothenburg, Sweden, just before Christmas. As excited as I am for this trip, there are details to consider.
Nine weeks in Norway is a long time. I needed to figure out ways to stay in a place that long and not spend all my money on lodging and food. I searched everywhere and considered everything. These are the possibilities I encountered. Of course, each person has their own preferences, reasons behind traveling, and budget, so take these ideas with a grain of salt. If you find another way better suited to you, go for it!
The first option, of course, is paying for it out of pocket. This is a better option for people with a higher budget, as it gets expensive really quick. I did some math for myself, just in terms of lodging. Nine weeks in Norway, assuming $30 a night at low-cost hostels, and it still adds up to a whopping $1,890. As someone traveling on a budget, that just isn’t possible for me. It is the best way to have time and space to yourself, and devote your time purely to exploring. But for most travelers, it just isn’t feasible.
This second option is the one I am going with. You go and work for someone in whatever country you are staying, and most will offer free food and lodging in return. This is a great way to save money, keep yourself somewhat busy, get involved with the culture, and make new friends. I discovered two sites while looking into this option. Helpx and Workaway. Both sites work much the same way. There are hosts that post what kind of work they are looking for, whether it be farm work, hostel/tourist work, or childcare. Interested volunteers can then contact hosts directly and ask about scheduling and accommodations. I personally liked Workaway better because it has a much easier format, way more user friendly. However, it really depends on where you want to volunteer. Workaway has more European hosts, Helpx has more African and Asian hosts. North and South America are pretty even between the two sites. Workaway also spells out more clearly when hosts need help, and what they offer in return. Just make sure you check what they offer, so you don’t think they offer both food and lodging when it turns out they only offer one.
There are lots of programs that assist with finding temporary job placements in countries where you’ll be for a longer period of time. These programs include Allianceabroad, Goabroad, GreenHeart Travel, and Go Overseas. The gist is that you pay for the program, most only include help with job placement, and once you are placed with a job, you start earning a small income. It isn’t the best way to save a lot of money, but if you want to live somewhere new for 6-12 months, it provides enough money to explore while there. Keep in mind, most of these programs assist with finding homestays that offer food and lodging, so you would not be living solo.
These are the big three ways to travel. The second two options cost less, but take a bit more planning and interaction from others to set up. I will be traveling, at least this time, with option #2, but I’m looking into option #3 for my next trip, most likely summer 2019 or 2020. As I said earlier, please do not stop your searching here! There might be more options out there, but you’ll never find them if you don’t explore. Start the adventure at home, on your computer or on the couch, and it will lead to experiences that will change your life forever. Never wait for the right opportunity to find you. Go out, find it yourself, and claim it.
Everyone has a place they call home. A place that feels so right that they decide to settle there until silver-haired and world-weary. I grew up in Rochester, NY. I went to college in Selinsgrove, PA. So far, I’ve visited 16 of the states, and I have been to Nairobi, Kenya and Quebec City, Canada. In my Junior year of college, I studied abroad for four months in Scotland, and visited England and Ireland while there. I have never felt a sense of belonging as strong as I did when I was in Scotland. I was this close to moving to Scotland and settling. Then I thought, what if there is some place in the world where I feel this way even stronger? How can I know where I belong until I see it all?
I’m 23. I’m capable, I’m a writer, I’m still growing spiritually and I have fears to conquer. What better time to travel and fall in love with the world and all its little wonders? I aim to see it all, until the soles of my feet ache, and still I’ll continue to discover.
I want friends along the way. Like you. I want to tell you about my journey. All aspects of it. The charming, the phenomenal, the not-so-nice, the spiritual, the personal, the inspiration, the beautiful, the ugly, the happy and the sad, the know-how, and the tedious. I invite you to come with me on my adventure.
Let this wanderlust seize your body and mind as much as it does mine. I’ll share. Here. A fistful of silvery-blue wanderlust just for you. Hide it under your pillow. Eat it with your morning bagel. Give it time to mature, until it is all consuming.
Then, give in. Let it lead you to where you belong.
I’ll meet you there.