31 October 2017

The social travelling adventures of the introverted non-drinker

Shyness. Parties. Travelling. The social adventures of the introverted non-drinker. Is that even a thing? Let's discuss.

Yes, your online blogger who takes a lot of pictures of herself and shares a hell of a lot is indeed quite the introvert. & yes, this introvert went on a backpacking adventure, a voyage of self-discovery. I'm here to say that it's wrong to assume that all travellers are extroverts, drinkers, party-goers. I am living proof that you, you shy, introverted person, can still have a great time, and still meet new people, without having to pretend otherwise.

As most of you know, I'm currently on a backpacking trip around New Zealand with the Kiwi Experience Bus. That means moving around every other day (in most cases, every day), staying in a new hostel every night, and losing your personal space and privacy. I've lost count of the amount of people I've passed in hallways wearing nothing but a towel, or the amount of people who have seen me awkwardly trying to get my sports bra on in the morning. Your personal space and 'quiet time' is your bed (and even then you can't escape the snoring or the bag-rustling-at-6-am). Even though I've found it difficult to deal with at some moments, on the whole I've managed to cope with it reasonably well.
This experience has absolutely shed a light on who I am as a person: travelling hasn't changed the fact that I'm introverted, quite shy, or have difficulty starting a conversation. Can we even really change those things? Why should we want to?

I made myself attend a party which I knew would end with me standing awkwardly in a corner (it did), making small talk with people who had different interests and different ways of enjoying themselves. I left before things got hard-core, and found myself outside cuddling a cat who had followed me to my cabin for 20 minutes. Funnily enough, that then led to a conversation between me and a guy who was on our Bus at the time. I also met a new friend that night who, like me, didn't seem to be the party type and who had found a safe place in a quiet spot on the dance floor. Although this whole experience hasn't changed this aspect of my personality, I'm still glad I gave the party a go. You never know what will come out of these things, so it does feel good to take part, if only for a very little while. I don't feel guilty for slipping away when the real party started: it's just not my thing. I can go to these types of parties time and time again, and this won't change. Am I really missing out? You might think I am, but truthfully if I had stayed I would still have found myself at one point or another, standing in that corner.

I don't think it's a bad thing. There are other ways to socialise than at parties. & I tried - I went, I made an effort, I didn't shut myself away. & I was in no way upset. It's not social anxiety, it's just not my thing. I'm just not comfortable in that setting. Why lie? Or try to be different? Surely I'll find my kind of people if I do the things I enjoy, not others? So why do people make others feel guilty about it? Trying to act different will just make you miserable.

Being introverted may make travelling a bit tricky, but it doesn't stop you from meeting new people. The truth is that you aren't alone, and you will at some point find other people like you. & yes, it is possible to still have a good time with extroverts, or enjoy yourself without going to parties.

So many of the guides/hostels in New Zealand have assumed that everyone wants to get drunk and party, with the underlying message that that is the ideal activity to have a great time abroad. Or that most travellers are extroverts, or drinkers. As an introverted non-drinker, it does make things a little tricky. No offence, but I really do just want to go and relax in my bunk. I need to recharge, and I can't do that if I'm surrounded by the same faces every waking hour. (again, no offence). Ahh, the joy of enjoying your own company, and the awkwardness that comes with socialising when all you want to do is lie alone in your bed.

This travelling experience has taught me alot of things, and it has made me alot more confident. I want to say that just because I still don't like going to parties, it doesn't mean I've missed out, or that I 'haven't come out of my shell'. Let's not base travelling adventures solely on the drunken nights. It minimises the importance of travelling and it's long-term personal impact. It's not just about socialising in a party way (if you want to let loose then why the hell not! It's just not for everyone, and that's ok): it's about meeting people of all backgrounds who enjoy different things. It's about becoming more independent and confident. It's about educating yourself and being more open-minded. I am more confident in different ways than I ever have been before. I'm more accepting of who I am, I am more educated and more open-minded. So please don't wonder if someone 'finally' got me to drink or let loose, please don't believe that I missed an opportunity. Be open to the idea that all people are not wired the same way. & yes, I'm having a pretty good time being my introverted self thankyou-very-much.

 We shot these pictures in the visually stunning town of Picton, on the south island of New Zealand. They are my favorite ootd pictures yet: not only do they perfectly summarize my backpacking outfits (sportswear, or this double denim duo and basic shirt - no space for much else!), they also capture the mood of the day. There was noone about. Noone. We spent a long time on this stretch of beach taking pictures, not a worry in the world, bathing in the serene atmosphere and beauty of the place. It was perfect.

Holly is wearing: 

Denim jacket: Topshop
High-waisted 90's baggy jeans: Levi's
Red cotton shirt: & Other Stories
Vegan shoes: Toms

Holly is wearing cruelty-free make-up

Skin: Smashbox 35 SPF BB cream
Bronzer & Lipstick: Rosie for Autograph
Eyes: Anastasia Beverly Hills brow wiz, Smashbox mascara

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