Female Solo Traveling: Anxieties

I just came back from my Hong Kong trip and it’s been an interesting trip. So much to reflect on! The anxieties, for one, is very real. I think it is a reflection of my character as an over-thinker as well, but anyway, overcoming them = the personal growth I was looking for. The mantra that I got from an article TinyBuddha after googling  “How to not overthink” was:

Action leads to clarity

And that’s kind of what I tried to practice, but of course sometimes the overthinking and anxiety took over. Before the trip I was so afraid of not being able to pack under the limit before and during the trip. Let’s just say that I was so under (after buying a textbook and a few sets of clothing and a bag) by the end of the trip I felt really stupid for being so worried. To add on to this I would probably also say:

 Experience leads to ease.

Next time, I probably won’t worry too much about baggage limits – who wants to travel with a 20kg bag anyway? In fact, I think being a light traveler beats having all your ‘necessities’ with you. As for the other fear of dying onboard a budget air/ being mistreated aboard the plane? I’ll probably be less afraid of booking budget airlines from now on.Budget airs are small, but they fly as smooth as big planes most of the time (it’s probably more down to weather) and the service is not stellar, and it can get squeezy (especially the aisles!), but it’s clean and the a/c works. Try it once, have the experience, and it’ll be easier to manage expectations.

Of course, sometimes experience can be bad too. In fact, I also see that what incapacitated me was the fear of making mistakes, bad choices. This was very much so for my choice of meals and attractions. And when I do make a mistake, it can be so easy to think of the alternatives I didn’t chose, and thus beat myself up for them.

 ‘What ifs’ are distracting.

I still remember having to write a poem on the theme of “What ifs” back in Primary 4. The main lesson was to not get caught up in the what ifs. It’s such a human tendency, one I’m particularly vulnerable to. What if I didn’t take a gap year? What if I didn’t fly budget air? What if I ate at this place instead of this? There’s isn’t much value dwelling on these hypothetical situations, but I do it anyway, and it leads to negativity, and not living in the present.

So yes, most of my anxieties were actually down to trying to micromanage my decisions. It’s normal because we all want a ‘perfect trip’. In the same way, maybe I want a ‘perfect life’. Several times I decided to act instead of think, and they don’t always turn out wonderful, but when they do I feel great because I was free from my micromanaging tendencies.

In the end, some of the highlights of the trip were in fact 100% spontaneous, like visiting the Army Open House and eating congee at a random hawker centre we chanced upon. Allowing for these moments, allowing yourself to be distracted is as I’ve said, liberating. It’s a balance actually. Not planning anything gave me anxiety (what was I going to do? Sleep in the hostel everyday?) but planning everything makes the trip less spontaneous and thus less organic.

Now, it’s time for me to put them into practice, not only for my upcoming vietnam trip, but also in reality – to think less, act more, and as cliche as it sounds, go with the flow. Be courageous, be daring. Go forward, the stakes are not really that high. Be bold, and you’ll be rewarded.

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