It seems like 2017 was meant for conquering my favorite cities, on my own. I know, I know, you’re probably sick of whole Rome topic (“can she post about anything else already?!”), but today I wanted to touch on another “popular” subject of mine and that’s anxiety. Sadly, it’s an international condition and can’t be left at home. Too bad, huh?
Episodes at home can be pretty manageable, but what can you do when you’re away, especially when going solo? Yes, I admit, it’s harder, because the normal routine probably won’t work, but there are ways. I’ve touched on some points in my London post last year, about doing what it’s comfortable for you at that moment.
I had a particularly bad episode one day near the end of my summer vacation in Rome. Skipped my morning routine in favor of snoozing an hour longer and it broke my whole cycle. I was afraid of even stepping out of my room. I rationalized it of course, that nothing is wrong with taking a morning off, that I’m in no rush, nobody is waiting for me and I’m on holidays after all. By noon, I was feeling jumpy and ready to start the day. Or so I thought. It took me two hours to go out the door.
Congratulating myself on the stairs, I arrived on the street and only then it really hit me. I was ready to turn around that second, but I powered it through. It got worse with every second, I was feeling like the whole road was starring at me, my shoe laces were constantly going off, sun was in my eyes and everything felt just so wrong. That continued through the whole day and usually, I would turn right back, but that day I decided to ignore it.
Instead of hitting the coast, like I planned, I decided to play it safe and wander the known streets. Explore the nooks of the town, that felt so comfortable. That took off the pressure of going to specific place. Call it a compromise, at least I was out! At one point, I made it to the stairs of some museum and just sat there for an hour, people watching. And finally, after a whole day, I felt at ease again.
Getting through these episodes was easy in Rome, because I knew the city. Even though there’s millions of people going by every second in every direction, it brought me some kind of peace, serenity. Loosing myself in the crowd is by far the most effective cure for me. Feeling like I’m nobody, unnoticed, but not completely invisible. I kind of have an issue with the thought of constantly being watched, judged and controlled, but I guess big cities can take some of that pressure away for me.
Moral of the story? Anxiety while solo travelling is no harder than when in company. The only difference is that you have to deal with it completely alone. It can teach you a valuable lesson about yourself and that definitely stays with you even back at home.
Maybe that’s the charm of travelling to big cities for me – after a while, I can let go of my anxiety, get used to it and carry that freeing feeling back home. ♥