This post is going to be all over the place. It is also going to be slightly ironic. I apologize in advance.
My first day in Edinburgh, I was feeling pretty down. Tired, kinda lonely, really just not feeling it. I didn’t want to climb steps to see a castle. I did not want to navigate or plan anything. I did not want to tourist. I kept thinking how Friend A would love that thing over there, and Friend B would have made better conversation with strangers, and how Friend C loves tea and I’m having tea and something must be wrong because I’m not really having fun anymore and where is the eat pray love I was promised?
I realized that day solo travel means you get the skipping joy of doing whatever the hell you want. (Really, ladies, it feels weird not having to ask someone else if they’re happy with your decision. Almost like I stole something. Hopefully ridding womankind of this guilt is somewhere on the Feminist Agenda because it needs to go!) But it also means you have to deal with your foul moods all on your own.
Through the years and several Geneen Roth books, I’ve learned that trying to get rid of your negative feelings or willing yourself to pull it together can be counter-productive. Sometimes you just gotta sit with them. Close your eyes, take a few breaths, and find out what the feeling actually FEELS like. In most cases, it occupies a much smaller space inside you than you thought. You’re not actually reacting to the feeling, you’re reacting to the horror story you’ve spun around it. I’m lonely. I must be doing this whole thing wrong. You haven’t even been at this thing two weeks and you’re already unhappy. You’re actually kind of pathetic. And spoiled. Don’t forget spoiled. You know, if you were more outgoing, you would have more friends from the road to show for this. Maybe even a boyfriend. Everyone said you’d fall in love. But let’s face it, you’re so awkward and you blame your resting bitch-face, but you pull it out on purpose to scare people off. You’re going to be alone and it will be your own fault.
I’m lonely is the feeling. Everything else is the story. The story is what’s scary and once you can talk yourself down from that, you can think with more clarity. I also want to note that in that very early on in that self-talk tail-spin up there, I inadvertently switched from “I” to “you”. It might not be great writing, but is is another sign that the “story” has taken over the situation, so I’m leaving it without any edits.
Anyway, back to to I’m lonely. I took a few breaths with I’m lonely. For an afternoon, I tried to make friends with I’m lonely.
So I wandered. I took deep breaths. Every time I wanted to take a picture, I took a breath. (Ok, so I took 3 pictures, but I usually do 150, so I’m calling it a win.) When I wanted to selfie, I took a breath. When I started composing some smart-ass Instagram caption in my head or thinking of a wise or clever way to explain this weird day to you, I took a breath. I spent the day in a truly magical city and really noticed it. Because I wasn’t in blog-mode, I think I saw Edinburgh in a way that I hadn’t seen the other places I’d visited.
So what did we learn today?
- If you separate your actual feelings from the Greek tragedy playing in your head, you can deal.
- Put down your camera once in a while.
- The world could probably do with less selfies.
There’s another playlist coming your way before the week is out. I’m really proud of my most recent Manchester and Liverpool one, so please give it a listen.