Why have I been hiding?

It’s been interesting to see and experience me coming out of my shell to the extent that it has over the last month. At home, I’m not really the most social person in the world, and I’m completely ok with that. My introversion gets the best of me and being busy doesn’t help. Nervous to say the wrong thing or come off as weird. The fear of being judged. But here, on this journey, there is no fear of that. I talk to people. I start conversations. I get a feel for people and who they are. My sense of humor, need for adventure, my willingness to have fun and let go and be completely myself, it’s all there in full force. 
I’m kind of wondering where I’ve been. Why I’ve been hiding. Why the actual me disappeared in the first place. I guess adolescence took away a lot of my fun, crazy personality and turned it into awkwardness and fear. I never wanted to be the annoying one and I knew that maybe when I was 11 or 12 I didn’t know how to balance being fun. Always living with the thought that the people who were in my life would get sick of me. And it’s sad to say that sometimes they did. But kids are assholes.
I still come off at first a little more quiet. Or I just take a few conversations to get to know more. But I’ve heard more than once “you seem like a lot of fun” or “I can tell you know how to have a good time” and that’s such a weird switch that I’m not used to. Where I grew up I rarely went to parties, or went out, or was always on guard or apprehensive to actually have fun. But that’s when I was 14, or 16, or 18. And now I’m traveling Europe alone and I don’t dare to second guess a good time or doing exactly what I want. 
I used to think about how I was a slightly different person with different people. It felt like I was living to be who they wanted me to be, or with some people there wasn’t that pressure at all, so I was always just me. But it never felt consistent. Always some part of me being suppressed or hidden away. Some saw the real me and some saw a slight variation of it. Less sarcastic. Less of a sense of humor. The more I figure myself out, the more I can let myself unwind. 
I don’t think I’m afraid of being me anymore. 

One Month Countdown

The one-month countdown has finally begun. I still can’t believe I’m doing this – and it doesn’t seem like all that many other people can believe it either. I can sense the doubts of others as I tell them my plan, I see their reactions when I say the word “hostel,” and I can feel their concerns when I say I’m doing this alone.

I have had my doubts, though very few. As time keeps passing and the day of my departure comes closer, my excitement churns to nervousness and sometimes even I wonder if I’ll really be comfortable being completely alone all of the time.

But then I remember who I am. I remember what I’ve been through. The hardest moments of my life I have lived through alone. There have been so many times in my life where I thought, “How am I going to be able to move on from this?” or, “How am I ever going to be okay again?” and I remember what is most important: the idea that everything in life is temporary. Fear, pain, confusion, yearning, joy, illness – everything is temporary. Feelings, both good and bad, rise and fall, and that is what life is all about.

This is what I have wanted to do for as long as I can remember and I have always imagined myself being completely alone during the journey. Maybe not completely, but at least without the company of someone I actually know. If everything I have ever experienced has led me to anything – it is this summer.

I’ve got it all figured out. I have my support systems. I have my friends, my family, my penpals in multiple countries of the world to reach out to if I’m in a bind, or just need someone to talk to that’s somewhat close by. And to be honest, I’ve planned this trip rather strategically, though of course, I know that nothing ever goes as planned, and I’m ok with that. I know that the stress will only be temporary, too. The scary moments will dissipate. Every moment of my journey will be fleeting – and that’s why I have to appreciate every single moment. Every landscape. Even though I’m traveling often, I have to allow myself to soak it all in, no matter where I am.

I start my trip with family in Ireland. I’ll be in Ireland for two weeks before heading to Portugal, and then Spain, each for about a week. I have no doubt I will be able to get through my trip. I have so much to look forward to, every day, every night. Once my first month has passed, I get a two-week break with my Contiki tour, so I’ll have some time to breathe and not have to worry about getting from place to place.

Time is ticking… and I’m ready.