If there’s one word to describe me, it’s bubbly. Almost every single person I’ve met has called me that and even though I always seem to have no trouble meeting new people, I still consider myself an introvert.
When you’re travelling, being an introvert can either work in your favour or be the worst thing ever.
The first time I went to Paris, there were many times where I experienced a feeling of social anxiety. I was often hesitant to head into cafes in fear that I would embarrass myself by not knowing how to order in French. Rather than ask for help when I was lost, I would pay a ridiculous amount of money just to use my phone data for directions. This one time I couldn’t understand anything the cashier at the supermarket was saying so I never returned after that.
Because I’m someone who generally doesn’t want attention on myself, it’s often easier to be a wallflower and observe.
There were many times when I’ve walked around a city and watched the people around me. It’s almost refreshing not having anyone around know who you are and feeling invisible. You pick up on the smallest details – the little things that nobody seems to notice.
I remember in Paris the old woman picking a rose from a nearby park and placing it in her shirt pocket. In Bruges, there were elderly men having a laugh as they play chess by one of the many canals. In New York, there was a fashionable lady at the Met adjusting her pink scarf that surprisingly but perfectly complimented her multi-coloured bag.
Admittedly, there were occasions when I felt lonely and sometimes I wanted someone to talk to but I could never bring myself to approach a random person and start talking to them.
I know this one person who has the amazing ability of being able to talk to anyone. I’ve seen him start conversations with strangers on the street and then by the end of it, he’s grabbed their details and made a new friend.
There have been many times when I wish I could easily do that but then I have so many thoughts that start to run through my head.
What if I’m bothering this person? What if they think I’m weird? What if they’re actually a serial killer and I’m their next victim?
I’ve always found myself interested by people and that’s probably why I love traveling so much. It’s an unforgettable experience being able to encounter different people and cultures from all walks of life.
However, I’ve had some of the best travel moments completely by myself.
I remember walking around Paris at 6am as the rain started to drizzle. The Latin Quartier was empty and Notre Dame was a dark beauty amongst the grey skies. I was completely alone but at the same time, I had never felt more at peace in Paris. Paris was mine for a moment, and as an introvert, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Photo taken by David Turnbull.