When you travel by yourself, you tend to do a lot of activities by yourself...or you don't do anything. To go or not to go is the most frequent decision I've been making lately...that and deciding between getting dressed and working from a coffee shop or staying in sweatpants and working from the porch. The struggle is real.
The going by myself option has almost become second nature, but often when I talk to friends I hear the classic, "Wow, I could never do that!" Actually, you can. Why are we so afraid to be by ourselves or to be seen doing things by ourselves? I could probably come up with a bunch of reasons, but I think you can figure it out for yourself and what keeps you from choosing to go. All I want to say to you is, "Just go!"
Day 76: Washington D.C
After a morning of lazy or rather rest, I felt myself getting antsy just lounging on a porch. I wanted to take advantage of being in such a cool part of this country. Someone had told me about Eastern Market so I decided I would go there, get a bite to eat and map out the rest of my day. After browsing some popup shops, I settled in at Le Pain Quotidien and pulled out my handy dandy google machine. I literally searched something like "things to do in D.C." ...so lame, but I had to start somewhere. I quickly got caught up in finding the perfect thing to do so after too much time on google, I went ahead and just reserved a spot on a walking tour of Embassy Row and Dupont Circle for that night. I had some time to kill before it started so I made my way via subway (I LOVE public transportation by the way. I mostly love mapping out my route on subways because...maps.) to the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts because there was a free National Symphony Orchestra concert and great views and #porqueno. I eventually made my way Dupont Circle with time for an overpriced glass of rosé on the patio at Doyle.
I met up with the tour in the middle of Dupont Circle only to find out that our tour guide is from Houston and sister to someone I worked a summer camp with. Also on the tour was a man that lives in my home neighborhood in Houston and knows my second grade teacher. Moments like that make me love saying yes to doing new things alone! And it gets better...
Day 80: Washington D.C.
I was having another restless afternoon after spending 8 hours working on my computer from home, and remembered that on the tour, we passed Woodrow Wilson's House and were informed about a monthly vintage game night they host and the next one was that night. I texted a D.C. friend to see if she wanted to go, but she had other plans, so I spent a few seconds contemplating...go by myself or don't go. I didn't really allow myself to think much about it before purchasing tickets. The whole drive there, though, I was giving myself a pep talk. This wasn't just doing something by myself where I could vaguely go unnoticed. It was an activity that required interacting with strangers and potentially being the loner with no one to play a game with. Childhood wounds and fears rushed in, but the alternative was spending the night staring at a screen. Vintage Game Night at Woodrow Wilson's House or Netflix? Is that even a question? What would Brené Brown say? So I walked in heading straight for the bar. With wine in hand, I turn and see a familiar face. Now, when I see a familiar face, my mouth usually speaks before my brain has time to tell it "Be cool, be cool, be cool! You don't know that person!"
"Hey! You look so familiar!"
Oh gosh, what did I do? Think, think...this is awkward...where is my self-control??
Thankfully, I was quickly able to place her. She was on the tour I took the other night! We immediately hit it off and turns out she came by herself too. And what a fascinating person! She works for the State Department doing tours working in U.S. Embassies around the world. She's currently in D.C. learning Spanish to spend a few years in Ecuador. One day she was bored at work and googled how to work internationally, stumbled upon the State Department, and the rest is history! When we left, we exchanged numbers, she invited me to hang out with her and her other State Department friends later this weekend, and she told me if I ever find myself in Ecuador, I'd have a place to stay.
People are awesome, but I think fear keeps us from discovering this way too often. Fear tells me people, especially strangers, are hurtful and going to reject me. Vulnerability opens the door for some pretty great experiences and free places to stay in foreign countries.