Friday, March 27, 2015

Answering Man Repeller's writers prompt: Escape your comfort zone

I remember this moment vividly as if it was only yesterday.

Lets start with a little back story, a young, bright eyed, naïve 22 year old, setting off on this magnificent European adventure with a girl I was soon to learn I did not know well enough.

Traveling, in a pair, with a friend I had not spent enough time with proved to be more challenging than I had expected. As these things often are. You have all of these romantic ideas of how you will both get along and it will be fun and easy. For the most part it generally is, with a few terse moments.

However, the terse moments began to outweigh the fun times. I was quickly realizing that perhaps choosing an only child to travel with when I was used to spending my holidays with siblings and cousins, and no real space to myself, was maybe a bad idea.

With a 14-week trip planned and only six weeks in, I was beginning to loose patience. But terrified of the prospect of heading off solo for the remainder of my trip.

It all came crumbling down one grey rainy day in Amsterdam. I had had enough. Tired of feeling like the bad guy whenever I tried to get her to compromise or to maybe consider doing something I wanted to do. Building up all my courage to talk to her and let her know that when the bus came to get us the next day that I wasn’t going to be joining her.

It was awful, I felt awful, there were tears and yelling. It felt like a messy break up. An uncomfortable 24 hours followed, then I saw her off at the bus stop, went back to my friends house and thought it was all going to be wonderful from here.

But oh boy was I wrong…

Off I went on the bus a couple of days later, it was fine while I was on the bus. It was when the bus got to that I began to freak out.

Off I get, struggling to find a cab to take me to my hostel, seeing as I a; didn’t know where it was and b; didn’t speak German (except for gutten tag and ja).

Every emotion was building up, I was feeling stressed, worried, scared and overwhelmed. Finally making it to the hostel, checking in and heading out to find something to eat. That’s when it all came tumbling down.

Walking out the front door, with instructions on places to find dinner, then proceeded to get lost and a little teary…

The little teary turned in to one of those amazingly, attractive, noisy cries, which are best kept for the private of your bedroom or shower. However, I was currently sitting on the steps of Berlin Hauptbahnhof Station.

And I cried, boy did I cry.

All I could think about was that I knew no one, no one in this country, no one in this time zone, no one on this continent. That if something happened to me no one could help me, that no one could console me.

I’ve never felt so alone and isolated, so out of my comfort zone. Strangers kept on coming up to me asking me questions in German, which were followed by me crying louder or very unattractively sniffing then blowing my nose.

I was alone, in all sense of the word. The first time in my entire life that that thought made me feel really truly vulnerable. This traumatic ordeal lasted all of an hour. But it felt like forever.

Eventually I ran out of tears, it began to get cold and I didn’t have a jacket and I got really hungry. Dusting myself off, heading back to my hostel all red and puffy in the face.

Walking in to my dorm room, that was empty when I left, to the sound of girls laughing. Upon opening my door the girls in the room that I had yet to meet looked up at me, saw my face, came running and gave me the hug I desperately needed.

Five years on, this one girl is still in my life, although she lives in London, that night I made a friend for life. So although I was thrown miles out of my comfort zone, I learnt a lot, about my resilience, about my ability to do a good ugly cry and about the kindness of strangers.

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