Continuing to be introspective on this cloudy day, I have thought a lot about what I have learned on this trip (blog post writing in progress), but also what has changed.
As said yesterday, I can’t really tell. I’m still me. It might be friends who may or may not realize a change, once I am back (and I hope you guys tell me!).
I wonder what the effects of traveling by yourself for such a long time really are. Have I become weird, a hermit, closed off?
I sometimes observe myself and realize that I do have no problems whatsoever to travel alone – actually, with a few exceptions, I couldn’t imagine it any other way.
I do realize though that I do need a lot of time for myself. The total independence on what you want to do, when and how you want to do it, and not being submitted to any external factors, besides the weather, is a huge gift.
But it might also lead to a certain inability to compromise? Or to have decisions being made for you. (I think about returning to work, where, by nature, a hierarchy and bosses tell you what to do…)
I realize that I enjoy and maybe even need to have a big part of the day by and for myself. It’s good that way, I like it. Being with the same person for a long time, with the exception of the closest friends, is a bit alien to me now.
It might be difficult to adapt to this aspect of normal life again.
On the other hand – and maybe that is a bit of a paradox – I think I have become more open and outgoing on this journey.
I just realize this from feedback I get from new people I met, basically still pretty much strangers who start to get to know me, but it’s feedback I have not heard before, necessarily.
Several of them said that I’ve been super approachable, open, warm, outgoing. If that is so, it’s a good thing, and a definite change.
I have never seen my self as outgoing, at least not from the start. I always have my guard up. You need to earn my trust a bit. I am observing situations and people, and only when I decide it’s safe, I might get to know them better.
I remember being the kid who, at his own birthday party, was rather on the sidelines and observed than being at the centre of attention… (and to this day I ignore my birthday, few know the date, and on the day itself I like to shut off my phone…)
Well, traveling alone has forced me to go out more and approach people quickly and easily, trying to make friends. I basically threw myself into a situation I fundamentally dislike, and had to learn to swim.
And I think I did, because otherwise this trip would have been pretty lonely. And it wasn’t.
I am curious to see how much of that spirit I’ll transport back into my Brussels life, where, I remember, I was unhappy not making any new friends anymore…
I remember that the last real addition to my friendship circle was 2007. There’s a backstory to that, with me disliking Brussels in the end and fleeing it at any possible occasion – not a recipe to make new friends.
The challenge will be to keep that open spirit alive and go out there, and rediscover Brussels, make new friends, like it’s just another city on this journey.