I feel like people assume that I'm this big social butterfly who can just make friends wherever I go with no issues. Of course I can't blame them and I would honestly assume the same thing if I were them. The truth is that I get super nervous in social settings. For example, one of the first social events I went to in China was a picnic. I was going by myself, so of course I was freaking out inside. Is anyone else going to be by themselves so I can approach them? What do I do if everyone is talking in little groups? How do I start a conversation? What if everyone already knows each other? That was me before the event and before a lot of social outings if I'm not used to being around a group of people. So how was I able to successfully have a decent social life while traveling? Good question:
1. Ignore the pointless negative thoughts in your head.
It's better to do something and be embarrassed by it, than to not do it at all and regret it. I always recall this saying whenever I'm making any big decision. Honestly, the best places to embarrass yourself anyway are abroad because it's not like you'll see those people again. Who cares!
2. There's nothing wrong with going places alone.
People are always so nervous about doing things alone because they think they'll look like a loner. I've gone many places by myself and made friends from it. You're more approachable when by yourself, so just make the most of it whether you meet someone new or not. When I go places alone, I always bring a book or something to keep my mind off of the people around me. There are so many people traveling by themselves anyway that you shouldn't even worry about it. There's a beauty in going places by yourself. You take in what's around you more, you can make your own itinerary, and it gives you time to think.
3. There's most likely someone out there just like you.
There are introverts all over the place and with social media right at your fingertips, you can find all types of people wherever you may be. Reach out to someone you think you might like and ask them if they'd like to grab some coffee because you're new in town. It might sound creepy but it's all about the approach and people do it all the time. There may be a Facebook group that has travelers in certain areas who are looking for some friends. The worse they can say is no and it's not like you'll see them ever anyway.
4. Don't assume plans will always go through.
This mostly ties in with number 2 but it is still very important. You can make plans with people and, for whatever reason, no one can hang out anymore. Life happens, but that's why it's important to make backup plans with yourself so you won't be upset all day over plans not falling through.
5. If you're not interested in something, don't do it.
You should always try and do new things even if it sounds crazy, but there's a difference between stepping out of your comfort zone, and doing something that you know you wouldn't enjoy doing. I know many people who would love to go skydiving, but I know that I would not ever be interested in doing that so why would I waste my time? Yes it would take me out of my comfort zone, but in the end it still wouldn't be the best experience for me.
So traveling solo isn't just for extroverts. If you want to see the world, just go and everything else will eventually fall into place. Amazing experiences aren't always going to happen overnight so it's important to try new things and meet new people.
Kortney is an English teacher and travel blogger in China who loves to sing, travel, and visit the many hotspots around her whenever possible. She documents her fun and sometimes crazy experiences on her blog, kuriouskortney.com. You can also follow her on Snapchat at kortney5701 or Instagram at kortneypt.