photos by: Rowben Lantion
A couple of weeks ago I traveled solo internationally for the first time in my life. Yes, I've traveled here and there, even to Ukraine with a group of college students and such, but I've never gone anywhere outside the states completely alone. Now, it wasn't anywhere super exotic, as there was no language barrier or extreme culture shock, but I did want to start off somewhere and challenge myself. One of my greatest pleasures in life is doing things people tell me I cannot do. Not to prove them wrong, but to prove to myself that as my dad had always said, "You can do anything you set your mind to." Is this the craziest thing a person has set out to do? Of course not. However, everyone has their own personal journey and going on that road to find whatever it is they are looking for, I think, is courage enough. You see, for one, I have never set foot in London, let alone the UK - and two, it has been a dream of mine to attend London Fashion Week - so to set this into notion and actually have it take place has been a dream within itself. So in today's post, I wanted to share a reflection of my thoughts about what I learned from traveling solo.
1. LOOK IN THE MIRROR... THAT'S YOUR COMPETITION
More than anything else, what I learned about myself from this trip, is that no matter how hard you may try to not compare yourselves to others, it's inevitable. Especially the digital world we live in, where observing others is constant. I've been making changes since London, and it's teaching myself how to monitor my habits as such. For example, I'm an Insta-Story watching addict. Like Pringle chips, once I 'pop' I can't stop. So now instead of watching them every time I'm on the app, I only try to watch once during the morning, afternoon and evening. Even to how much time I spend on Instagram, which is an atrocious amount, I am cutting down on how often I check to see what's happening around me. Of course, it's important to know what's going on in terms of trends and current events but I also find it healthy and quite balanced to sometimes stop looking, keeping the phone out of my reach and focusing on my own sh*t. Remember... everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses, and own pace, and it's only when you accept everything you are and aren't that you'll truly get anywhere with yourself. And the more I've been doing this, the better I have been feeling not just about myself but with my work. The creative juices are flowin' and I'm excited and a little nervous to start a few of them! But onward we shall go :)
2. ABSENCE MAKES THE HEART GROW FONDER
This isn't something new to me but still felt the need to share the importance of this. Sometimes getting away is the best thing to do when feeling unsure about things. Since traveling as a kid, I found that the ones you miss the most while away are the ones you truly love. Being apart makes me appreciate what I have with others and also always reminds me of what's important and who is important. Especially when traveling alone, it gives you the time to reflect and shows you what and who really matters in your life. It's like how the French say, "Tu me manques" which literally translates, "you are missing from me", and that's exactly how I feel to those while being away from home.
3. I'M STILL VERY PRIVATE ABOUT MY LIFE & I LIKE IT THIS WAY
As much as I still love to share with you guys more and more about my life, there's a time and place for everything. I'm not one to show all my cards up front. Because the more involved I become in the blogging world/public eye, of course, I am aware that life may not always be as private as it once was. People love to talk, rumors get spread, and yes, many are nosy. And that shouldn't get in the way of sharing my life with you, but I think leaving a little to the imagination never hurts and quite frankly protects you from those that do want to cause harm to you. I have always kept my inner circle extremely close-knit. When others ask me what I'm up to these days, I'm rather brief. Why? I'd rather show you than tell you.
4. YOU ARE CAPABLE OF WAY MORE THAN YOU EVER IMAGINED.
I'm telling everyone my new secret remedy to feeling unconfident. Just go somewhere alone for a few days. It doesn't have to be overseas, but it should be to an unfamiliar place or includes something you've never tried doing because doing it alone will not just build that self-esteem, you'll learn to discover something about yourself while doing so. Never have I challenged myself did I end up with a disastrous outcome. It may not always go the way you imagine, but if you stand strong and get through it, you will be better from it. And traveling is one of the best ways to learn and grow. I definitely feel like me again and I have never felt more confident than I do now!
5. STAY CALM AND CARRY ON AS THE BRITISH DO
Keep calm and carry on? You betcha. I sometimes tend to get anxious but what I definitely learned while traveling alone to London was how better off you are if you keep your cool and stay focused on the problem at hand. If you freak out, you'll just make the problem worse. Easier said than done to others I'm sure, but to someone like me who's impatient and a slight-control freak, it's not. A more subdued manner in one's self while being aware carries a certain sophistication. I definitely find this more apparent than in America.
6. LET IT GO, LET IT GO, LET IT GO...
Try not to plan your itinerary right down to what time you get up to when you're having dinner. The best part of traveling is no plans, no map and wandering... getting lost and discovering new hidden gems that you'd probably never cross paths with otherwise with a plan of any kind. And with traveling, something can always go awry so be prepared and be willing to go with the flow because not being in full control is something one has to face when traveling, especially alone. And the more accepting you are of this, the better the experience your trip will be too!
7. FACING FEARS ARE NOT AS SCARY AS THEY APPEAR TO BE.
I think what freaked me out the most was attending my first Fashion Week overseas with no assistant or helping hands of any kind. I was all by myself. So of course, when you’ve got to figure everything out yourself, you may feel anxious. Maybe you’re nervous about talking to strangers; maybe you’ll feel awkward by yourself in a restaurant or museum. From little fears to big ones, once you decide to face them, the truth shall set you free! Things quickly become less frightening once you step up to face them and will quickly realize there's not much in life to be afraid of.
8. MAKING NEW FRIENDS ISN'T HARD TO DO
It’s true. You will build new relationships on your journey, even if you’re shy. It doesn’t take much. A friendly smile. A helping hand. Or a shared fear. Indeed, nothing brings people closer than fear. You'd think people in the fashion world are not the nicest people, which can be true to a certain extent, but overall, even just sharing a commonality like sleep deprivation while waiting in line for coffee or to a show can spark a wonderful relationship. It could be friendship or a building working partnership, or both, either way, I find traveling to be one of the loveliest ways to meet new people.
How about you guys? How many of you have traveled solo? I'd love to hear your experiences so don't forget to drop a comment down below and share your thoughts. Lastly, if you're ever in need of a street style photographer while in London, please go check out Rowben with whom I shot this look with while there for Fashion Week. He is an absolute sweetheart with some serious skills. Rowben, darling, please come to New York soon! As always, you can directly shop my look at the end of each outfit blog post. Don't be shy to leave any questions about this look too! Catch Y'all soon!