Between 2005 and 2008 I was almost fearless – with the obvious exception of needles. NOPE!
Travelling full time and being introduced to new people and experience all of the time, I pretty much had to be. My once introverted self morphed into something entirely different, something much more fun and outgoing, more carefree and willing to take risks. Truth be told I very much liked the changes that a life of full time travel effectively forced me to make upon myself.
Fast forward to the present day though, and sometimes it kinda feels like I’ve gone backwards. I know in my head that I’m leading a very different life now what with working full time and bills etc, but a part of me is still sad that I couldn’t carry on a least some of the positive traits that I developed whilst backpacking the world.
At times I seem to have slipped back into the old me. Motivated by the weekends and pay-cheques, not overly willing to talk to strangers unless in a position where necessary, or introduced through mutual friends.
Part of me thinks that this is just how modern day London/England operates, but then another part of me is disappointed in myself and that I have conformed to this way of life and living.
So for a while now I have been pursuing a hobby that very few of my friends have shown any real interest in. It’s frustrating in a sense that I would love to be able to share and enjoy in this pursuit with someone I know, but I appreciate that not all of my friends will share in 100% of the things I like, in the same way that I will probably not like 100% of their interests.
So with that in mind, I rewound my behaviour and thought processes, and booked myself a 2 day ticket that would see me attend a large scale event in London alone, on my tod, on my ones, on my lonesome. Not a friend or reassuring face in sight.
I would have to get the train on my own
Queue up at the venue on my own
Stand in the venue on my own
Drink on my own
Eat on my own
Leave on my own – This part I am well practised in.
… or would I?
As it turns out, I would not alone, not at all. Days before the event was to take place, a Facebook post from the organisers announced that they were arranging a meeting spot for those of us attending on our own. It seemed a bit sad in some ways to attend this and feel the NEED not enter the venue on my own, but at the same time it was a chance to meet some new people and wasn’t overly different to attending a walking tour or pub crawl thrown by a hostel.
The Almost U-Turn
So the day arrived and I begrudgingly made my way to the meeting point. In between booking the ticket and the date of the event I had seemingly decided that I had made a mistake, even knowing there was a meeting point for all people attending alone.
This is stupid, why am I nervous? Why don’t I want to go?
I’m a 31 year old man(child) attending what was essentially a performance/entertainment event. There was no pressure on me to do or say anything at all, all I needed to do was watch, listen and enjoy. Yet my messed up head was feeding me negativity where once there would have been positive thoughts about meeting new people and experiencing new things.
Maybe it’s an age think, maybe it’s a mental thing, but either way I was/am in such a head space that putting myself out there like I once did when travelling, just seems like a massive effort now, and not an effort I am so willing to make.
Anyway, I did pull myself together, and I did make my way to the meeting point … but still begrudgingly.
As per usual, I was early to the the meet. I don’t do late, but this can sometimes be to my detriment as I end up being too early and having to nervously pace while I wait for others to arrive. I thought this time would be no different, that I would be the first to arrive, but to my surprise I was not.
For Dutch courage I headed straight to the bar, and almost instantly clocked a few people wearing clothing affiliated to the event. I made sure to order and take a gulp before talking to anyone, but talk I did and after 5 or 10 minutes all my fears from the previous day/week were gone. In a small, feeble sounding personal triumph, I was meeting new people and having a good time. Those social skills I had learnt when on my gap year were slowly starting to rise to the surface again.
Truth be told no ‘official meet’ of people attending on their own ever happened, we just kinda of got on with it ourselves, and in the end I didn’t leave early, I stayed, summoned up the (once prevalent but now seemingly lost) courage to put myself out there, and had a really good time.
Looking back my nervousness was ridiculous in the sense that everyone in attendance had that same particular interest in common, so it was unlikely conversation would ever be too lacking or awkward, but I guess that’s what real life and routine can do to you. I’m not saying that those things are bad, but it is totally possible (and quite likely) for you to slip back into your bubble as it were, after returning home from travel.
Taking more chances
So I’m slightly proud that I wound back the clock and was that person from 6 or 7 years ago – a person I much prefer – but now I’m left wondering if it was a one off, and whether I could do it again or on a regular basis.
My better half made a very good point in that I do this sort of thing all the time with travel blogging, but in my mind its a lot easier in that travel blogging mainly takes place from behind a keyboard, or at least at first. Most of my blogger friends I’ve e-met before I’ve met in person, or we’ve been introduced by other blogger friends first. There wasn’t the same kind of cold-calling aspect like there was with this event.
Well, as it happens I am possibly soon to find out if I can do it all again. In December I was supposed to be going to see a band in Camden with a buddy, but stupidly I told him the wrong date after sorting the tickets, and now he’s double booked. So I now have 2 tickets to my lonesome, and unless I can find someone to take the other ticket, I’ll be back in a very similar scenario …
A) Sack off the event, miss something I really want to experience and take a hit on the cost of the tickets.
B) Go for it on my tod and have more faith in myself and other people