Growing up, I was never the type of person to go up and strike a conversation with someone new. I was easily overwhelmed by talking to people I didn’t know, and social situations made me incredibly anxious. I’d always just be the person listening quietly in the background, afraid of saying something in case I made a fool of myself.
I’ve found that travel has helped me to come out of my shell, and equipped me with the skills to calm my anxiety in new situations.
I was talking with Lisa, a fellow travel blogger, the other day and she was telling me how my intro post really struck a chord with her. She connected with me on the shyness aspect, telling me how she didn’t enjoy new social situations either — that is, until a trip of a lifetime from Germany to San Diego, USA. Travel for the shy girl is truly life-changing.
So, when Lisa approached me about a collaboration, I thought a post combining both travel and shyness would be a perfect idea. Without further ado, here are our reasons for how travel can help you to overcome shyness!
TRAVEL FORCES YOU TO TALK TO PEOPLE.
You’ll be forced to interact with people and to ask for help. How do I get to this place? Is this the right bus? This may seem terrifying at first, but it does get easier with practice. You’ll have to talk to people when you need to buy food or when you need a place to sleep. Travel puts you into simple situations like these on a daily basis. And yes, it’s true, practice really does make perfect — or very near perfect at least! These interactions will greatly help improve your social skills. The more experience you have conversing and interacting with others, the better at it you’ll become and the less shy you’ll feel.
TRAVEL ALLOWS YOU TO MEET LIKE-MINDED TRAVELLERS.
Small talk has terrified me for much of my life and I’m still not completely comfortable with it. What am I supposed to say next? This silence is so awkward… Why can’t I think of anything to say? But when you already have something in common with someone — travel! — it makes it so much easier for conversation to flow. For example, a few months ago, I pushed myself to go on a four day camping trip with eight complete strangers. Needless to say, I was nervous. What if this is four long days of awkwardness? I’ll be stuck in the middle of nowhere with complete strangers… Turns out, all my worrying was unnecessary. It was so easy to have long, flowing conversations, initially about outdoor activities and travel, which then led to a whole bunch of other topics and ideas that we found we had a mutual interest in. You can learn so much from others, be inspired by them, and have unforgettable experiences to last a lifetime.
TRAVEL INCREASES YOUR SELF-CONFIDENCE.
Travel can be challenging, but it can also strengthen your independence and show you all that you are capable of. Through travel, you will learn that there’s nothing to fear in new and unexpected situations. With practice, you’ll become better at conversation and feel much more confident in your social abilities.
TRAVEL FORCES YOU TO STEP INTO UNKNOWN TERRAIN.
When you’re travelling, you may know the name of the place you’re going to, the location, the most popular sights, and maybe some cultural facts. But you don’t really know where you’re going. You will be forced to step into unknown terrain. This can be a bit frightening, but if you love travelling, it can’t be avoided. Stepping into unknown terrain and having to deal with new situations is not limited to travel. There are numerous situations in life in which you have to start something you’ve never done before and travel helps you to gain the necessary self-confidence to deal with these everyday challenges.
TRAVEL HELPS YOU TO TRY NEW THINGS.
Trying new things plays an essential role when it comes to overcoming shyness. And you don’t always have to try a thrilling extreme sport or go bungee jumping; sometimes it’s enough to just try a food you’ve never eaten before. Just order a local dish instead of asking for the French fries or going to a McDonald’s restaurant. This doesn’t mean you have to try an insect kebab to drop shyness. Instead, go for a köttbullar when you’re in Sweden or have a go at Vegemite when you’re Down Under. Changes begin on a small scale.
TRAVEL ALLOWS YOU TO GET TO KNOW YOURSELF BETTER.
Travel can sometimes turn into a mental or physical challenge. You will encounter situations in which you are clueless: you don’t know what to do, where to go, or who to talk to. But these situations help you to understand who you are. You do not only grow with these challenging situations, but you also learn about your strengths and weaknesses. You see what you dare to do, what you are afraid of, and where your comfort zone ends. There’s no shame in being afraid of something. You don’t have to be getting out of your comfort zone every minute of every day. It’s important that you understand yourself and that’s what travel helps you with more than anything else.