I was asked a question about travelling that I believe is a very important topic. There are many reasons to travel and there are many benefits of travelling, but specifically I was asked if travelling made me more confident. I would like to discuss it here.
I can say with 100% confidence (heh) that travelling has drastically improved my self esteem. I’ve travelled as part of a tour, as part of a couple, and as a solo traveller and all three forms have given me a new lease on life. The best for improving my confidence was easily the solo travelling, but that’s not to discredit the others. As a traveller you have to rely on yourself and believe in what you can do more so than you would have to in the comfort of home. You have to think, feel, plan, research, recover, understand, misunderstand, make mistakes, discover, get lost and find your way back again sometimes all in a 24 hour period. The person who wakes up the following morning is a far sturdier upgrade to whom ever it was lay their head down that night. You are forced to bust through that barrier surrounding your current comfort zone. Often times you discover that the world out there isn’t scary at all, but rather it is beautiful and suddenly your comfort zone has grown to accommodate this new experience.
I have never truly lacked confidence in most situations before I began travelling, but I was a nervous person by nature. I’m very social, and very happy around people, but I am also a chronic over-thinker, and I do tend to psych myself out of situations sometimes to my detriment. In fact it was my over-thinking that lead to me taking so long to go overseas. I was always the person who was quiet and withdrawn at first, but would morph into a loud, social, enthusiastic person once I felt a little more comfortable. I used to care a lot about what people thought about me, and so my decisions usually involved an attempt to keep everyone else happy. I can now safely say that I am vastly improved in every single area I used to identify as a problem, and it’s all due to travelling.
I’ve always liked being social, but some people do struggle. There’s nothing I’ve experienced quite as fantastic as staying in a hostel for improving upon your socialising and your self confidence. You walk in and you know no one (presumably) and you are free to be yourself. If you make a fool of yourself…(I almost deliberately subscribe to doing this) who cares? Chances are you’ll never see them again. You simply say anything, ask a question (“Where are you from?” is probably the most popular) and away you go. The interaction could last 12 seconds, 12 minutes, 12 hours, 12 days, and if you’re really lucky it could last a lot longer. It can be so random at times I met friends over NFL fantasy football, I met another over where the hell to go in Kyoto, one because they didn’t want to eat lunch alone and another because we liked beer, and so on. The friends you make while travelling are amazing and some of my absolute favourite people on this planet were met doing this. I firmly believe that if nothing else seeing the world this way at least once is a fantastic psychological tool for improving your self confidence.
When you get home and you battle through that sadness of the trip (There’s a reason you’re sad…) you start to realise that everything has slowed down, and that everything is a lot less daunting. Why would you fear saying hello to the person on the street when a week ago you met three people and within a day were abseiling off cliffs or surfing or [Insert activity here] with them without a care in the world? There is no reason to and you’re forever changed. I loved how much easier it all was so much that it’s probably the main driving force behind heading back out there again!
I really do believe it’s a brilliant way to improve upon and learn about yourself, and I can’t recommend it enough. If you’re sad, lonely, heart broken, stuck in a rut, bored, lacking in self esteem, struggling to socialise regularly, any other sort of “down and out”, or just want to have a good time, then I would have to recommend a trip. It doesn’t need to be a 4 year global hike from North to South Pole where you only hop using your left foot*, but even a short trip somewhere new and exotic will put things on the right track. I told my friend this and I figured why not share it with all of you out there who may need it. Some of you might understand where I’m coming from, maybe you disagree completely, but I hope this helps someone out there.
*If anyone wants to do that and record it I’d love to see it.