One of the best decisions of my twenty-three years on Earth was to become an adventurer. It sounds rather intimidating when put like that. But I’d define it simply as my transition from fear to curiosity.
I was an exceptionally shy child. I hid behind my parents at family parties and sought refuge in books. I did well at school, but the main criticism I received from teachers – and it was a persistent complaint – was that I needed to put up my hand and contribute.
Adolescence didn’t help my shyness at all, and university didn’t do much either. Just as I had in primary and secondary school, I still sat quietly in lectures and dodged the limelight.
But as I was finishing up my undergrad degree, I made the somewhat uncharacteristic decision to start seeing the world – properly.
I had lived abroad a year before, spending eight months of my English and Spanish degree working for a startup in Barcelona. But in hindsight, I feel like I had been a bit of a fraud. I hadn’t explored properly. I hadn’t gone on any solo trips outside of Barcelona. I hadn’t ventured off the beaten track with others, and less so on my own.
My decision to travel struck others as a fairly bold move, but I feel it brought out desires that were just dormant under the surface.
For one, I adored doing things on my own. I still do. Alone is my default mode, and I find it absolutely glorious. It’s in solitude that I create, think, and see the world from my best vantage point.
Secondly, you could say that adventure was just the grown-up manifestation of my childhood voyages into fiction. (Note to fellow bibliophiles: I still read, don’t worry).
So I booked my flights, trains and hostels and off I went.
My first stop, two weeks after the end of my exams, was Oslo. Here I learned to be a bit more approachable than normal.
Next up, a train across Norway to Bergen. It was here that I understood the advantages of talking to people in hostels.
From Bergen, I flew to Stockholm. I realised that passing by a bakery just before closing time has its perks (leaving with all of their leftover buns, for instance).
After Stockholm came a train across the water to Copenhagen. Here I got told to fatten myself up at the Torvehallerne.
And then, finally, came Hamburg and Berlin, where I met up with a friend from the past.
I realise now how often people were a key part of this journey.
Since that trip, I haven’t stopped adventuring – even if just on a micro-level. And with it, my shyness has been left behind (at least most of the time). I’ve nestled into a more confident and often stubborn skin. I’ve found a great joy in sharing my opinions and throwing myself out into the world.
It takes one bold move, but I think often there are many hints telling you that it’s the right time. Once you get those hints, please don’t ignore them or postpone them indefinitely.
Courage is the first step to so many of the best things in life.