As I sit here thinking about the weekend ahead I am filled with so many uncomfortable feelings – anxiety, dread, fear, anticipation, doubt, uncertainty… On Friday I am getting a plane and heading to Milan – by myself. I have only ever travelled abroad alone once before, and even then the only part I had to do alone was the flying. I was 17 and heading back to visit my German host family who I had met already and spent a week with only a couple of months before that as part of a group exchange program in school – it was familiar and I had the comfort of a lovely family around me once I got there. I still cried on the plane.
This time however, I am doing everything by myself, it is only a couple of nights but I feel like I’m about to go trekking up Mount Everest alone. I am trying to put my organisational skill to good use and prepare myself. The airport is an hour outside Milan city – I have already booked a coach ticket for shortly after my flight lands and I know that the final bus stop is right outside where I’m staying. I’ve booked a bed in a five person female dorm, in a hostel that according to Trip advisor is ‘#1 of 252 Specialty Lodging in Milan’. The reviews of the place have given me some hope that I won’t feel totally alone and will at least be staying in a safe and friendly place for the few days.
My plan is to do the hop on hop off bus tour around the city on Friday when I get there, I know from visiting other European cities that this really is one of the best way to get your bearings and figure out where you want to visit on foot… On Saturday I want to find the cities Christmas market as well as take in some of Milano’s famous fashion district. I’ve been looking up where the best vintage stores are and am definitely going to be locating a good sushi restaurant – yes I know the phrase “when in Rome” literally comes from Italy, and I should delve into the world of Carbonara and Linguini but I have a feeling my dairy allergy will rule out a lot of the rich and creamy dishes that Milan will have to offer. So in anticipation of this – I will be finding sushi!!
Writing about the trip does make me feel excited in a way but I am also filled with all the uncomfortable feelings that I opened this blog post talking about. I am doing this alone. I will never have been so alone in my entire life. It is a scary thought – so scary that every hour I get closer to going my inner voice, the one that has whispered doubts about myself and the world in my ear for as long as I can remember, is working hard to try to talk me out of going. But to listen to it would be to miss out on taking this massive step towards my self development. And as I think about it more and more I realise that I am giving the word ‘alone’ too much power – I know I should be focusing instead on ‘Independent’.
I have spent my entire life relying on other people for one thing or another – my family, my friends, my partner.. And now, as I sit here at 27, with the fear of god bubbling away inside me, I know that I need to find out who I am without all of these people. I need to find out just how independent I am. I need to fall in love with myself and my strength. Someone who is already fiercely independent reading this may think I am being dramatic! But you know what, I hope that down the line I will read back on this and smile to myself and think; “Wasn’t she sweet; honey just wait until you find out that you are capable of so much more. I love you for taking that first step because that’s what made me the woman I am today”. To future Me I want to say right now – “I am so scared. So scared to push myself to the absolute limit, but I’m doing it for you – I want you to be happy and to be able to live the best possible version of your life.”
This has been and continues to be a mountain of self awareness that I am climbing right now – I have many days of unclarity, feeling like every time I take one step forward with my learning and development I then take three steps back and find myself at the starting line all over again; emotionally and logically. The set backs are inevitable and never too far away. But I know that, whether I embrace it or fight it, Independence is going to be such a huge part of my life going forward. Life changes so quickly and you have to try to be the best version of yourself every day – having a lack of independence and lack of self belief have been two things that have held me back in life to date – this simply cannot be the case anymore.
I know that I need to go to Milan on Friday, I need to take this teeny tiny trip and push myself off the edge of my idea of comfort for a few days. I need to face the fear. I need to go and let go.
Written with love,