I solo-travelled to the land of ruin bars craving a weekend by myself in an unknown country. I had a love affair with the hip Jewish Quarter since day 1 and met amazing people from all over the world (I <3 hostels). A carefree weekend in 50 degree weather helped me understand the source of fear in my life. Here is the #LifeLesson I learned in Budapest.
Fear stems from not trusting myself
As I was walking back from Szimpla Kert (the best ruin bar in Budapest) at 4AM by myself after a night out with newly made friends, I couldn't help but feel empowered. As I embarked upon my 20 minute stroll to the hostel, my mind drifted back in time to my first solo travel.
I was in Lisbon, Portugal. It was 2AM and I felt bad vibes from the scene I was in. In a split second, I decided to return to the hostel via taxi although the streets were significantly busier than Budapest and I was closer to my accommodation. Fast forward, I am in Budapest, walking a solid mile by myself late at night. Needless to say, solo traveling has increased my self-confidence. The way I see it, there's two types of solo travelers: those who truly embrace solitude, or those who make sure they meet enough people to never experience it. While in Lisbon, I was the second type. In the daytime I wouldn't mind exploring the city alone, but once night fell, I made sure I was accompanied. Traveling alone as a female, I had pre-established fears that were ever-present in my mind. But, after having solo travelled to various countries, being on the lookout for constant company beats the purpose of exploring a new country by yourself.
My desire to meet others stemmed from fear, rather than a genuine sense of wanting to meet people. I made wonderful friends in Hungary, but I avoided clinging to them. I became mindful of my intentions when meeting others. Do I want to interact because I am genuinely interested in you or because I am evading solo time?
Needless to say, I put myself in a potentially dangerous situation because I trusted my ability to defend myself if it came down to it. I was confident in my stride and aware of my surroundings.
How did I gain this confidence?
By traveling. The more I venture around the world alone, I realize that although we are not in control of what happens to us, we can control how we react. Being fearful and anxious will create situations that cause you fear and anxiety. People who want to harm and take advantage of others are looking for signs of insecurity, unfortunately and specially, if you are an unaccompanied female. If you don't feel confident yet, act as if you were. Repeat to yourself "I am in control, I am confident, I am strong". I would repeat this on my way to the hostel, in Spanish of course "Nadie puede contigo, eres una dura, eres fuerte". Was I completely fearless leaving Szimpla Kert? Of course not. I had men approach me several times on my journey. My response: I looked at them straight in the eye and asked them "What are you looking at?". The severity in my tone and my piercing gaze were enough for them to stop harassing me. I was aggressive and direct, but sometimes you have to be.
Bottom line: I exposed myself to situations that were outside of my comfort zone in a progressive manner. In Portugal, it was leaving the club by myself in a taxi. In Budapest, it was walking alone late at night. Test the waters. Sometimes it's best to not jump right into it. Just make sure you dig deeper into that fear one solo-walk at 4AM at a time.