It’s even hotter in Asia than it was in Australia. Somehow. So, I shaved my head again.
It was easier the second time. I mean, it didn’t take much convincing the first time once the humid heat hit me (and if you know me at all, you know fashion and grooming aren’t at the top of my priority list anyway — I guarantee my mother and sister are exasperatedly nodding in agreement), but it was still uncharted territory and therefore gave me pause.
Like a “but what if it looks weird?” moment. Fifteen minutes and a few embarrassing pictures later, it was done and I was over it.
But we’re not here for a two-month-old play-by-play of razor on scalp. The point I’m trying to make is that I did it again, and it took significantly less brainpower to make the decision because there was no “what if” involved.
Similarly, I’m writing this blog while on my second solo adventure of Asia. I’m in Penang, a tropical Malaysian island. You’ve already learned about my time in the Philippines last week, and while preparing for Malaysia, I noticed everything was just…so much easier.
Planning what to bring, how to get myself around, what I wanted to see, and everything else in between was much less of a chore than it was for the Philippines. There was no “what if I can’t find my hostel?” or “what if I get sick?” or “what if I just stay in Singapore and avoid all this uncertainty altogether?”
Right? I know. Of course the more you do something, the easier it gets and the more comfortable you are doing it. Practice makes perfect. We’re taught that from an early age.
But it’s getting over the hump of that first try that seems to terrify people, myself included. I had no idea what to expect when I boarded my flight for the Philippines, truly traveling alone for the first time (sorry, Cairns – you’re too easy). I had no idea what to expect when I left on this journey in the first place.
And it took me a long time to convince myself that leaving was a good idea, let alone that taking on a couple Asian countries by myself wouldn’t leave me in shambles. But now I’m here, and I’m confident in my ability to get around and survive with limited knowledge of my surroundings, largely because I’ve already done it successfully in the Philippines.
Fear of the unknown is natural, I think. It’s why we get nervous on the first day at a new job, spend hours preparing for a first date and cautiously approach food we’ve never tasted before.
Of course there are countless other factors involved, but isn’t it the greatest feeling when you put fear aside and get through that first try of the unknown and emerge unscathed? And even if you come out of that first try bruised and battered, at least it’s done. There are no more surprises; no more “what if’s.”
So, let’s apply this back to the point I came here to make: You should not be afraid to try something new. And once you do, try it again. If you really enjoy it, maybe you’ll be back for thirds.
Give yourself a new look, even if it’s something you never thought you’d wear, or something people would think “isn’t you.” Pick up a new hobby that you are afraid you’ll fail at, or that your friends will laugh at you for trying. Go somewhere you’ve always wanted to see, and don’t let your fear of spending money, missing work or blending into a new culture convince you otherwise.
Making that first decision will be the hardest part. From there, you’ll be amazed at how much more confident you become in yourself and your abilities. Then, you’ll be able to try again and that second time will be even easier. I promise.
In my travels, I took that first step. I tried the “drop everything and go” approach and it is working wonders on my confidence thus far. I feel like I’m learning more about the world and myself than I ever imagined, and I’m still just two months in.
Doubts I had (and they were numerous, both prior to leaving the U.S. and going to the Philippines) have been washed away. These were uncomfortable, unfamiliar scenarios for me. But I went for it anyway, learned a lot along the way, and now I’m better for it. I imagine solo trip number three — whenever and wherever that may be — will be exponentially easier for me because of this.
I also imagine that anyone can do this, or anything for that matter, if you just try. Then try again.
And, hey. No matter what, it can’t go worse than this, right?