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Introvert man alone staring at the Marble Temple in Bangkok

Travelling as an Introvert: Fostering My Personal Space For a Deeper Connection to the World

I’ve been wondering how has introversion hindered me from meeting people that could’ve had enriched my travel experience. After all, isn’t that one of the reasons I wanted to travel anyways? Should I’ve been more outgoing? Shouldn’t I have gotten home with prospect opportunities, tons of new emails and recollections of people I met on the road?

 

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Let me contextualize

I’ve just finished the trip of a lifetime and now after 5 months, I’m back home.
I never was a person of many friends, I’m a loner and an introvert that enjoys planning parties more that attending them. Aloneness to me is freedom—aloneness, not isolation though.

When traveling there’s a natural inclination to gravitate to other travelers: we’re all in a foreign place with great stories to tell and valid opinions to share. Family and friends are back home and there’s a guy at your hostel with a similar adventurer spirit. Common ground, easy! So after 5 minutes of small talk, he wants to know what are you doing tomorrow, asks if he can join you and you say: “Sure.”

Well, a month had gone by into my trip when I lost the patience to hear rowdy backpacker’s stories about where they’ve been or where they were planning to go next. Honestly, I never cared about how many beers were drunk the night before, or their bias opinions about X country —mainly because they always tended to come up at the entrance of the epic monuments I always wanted to visit.

 

Praying

 

I just felt that the place I was deserved my full attention. After all, I spent years waiting for the opportunity to be there.

 

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So I started to withdraw from the crowd

Bearing in mind that we all have limited time to get to know a place when we’re on the road, I realized that I rather do it by myself without the distractions of casual chitchat, or the awkward moments of silence because it was my turn to say something back. I love silence, and I always preferred contemplation over a conversation.

 

floating market

 

The “internal struggle”

The thing is that I also envy the stories of travelers meeting someone that radically changed their travel plans, turned into a job opportunity overseas, or ended up as a lifelong friendship. The stories about being approached by a monk and talking for hours about life and god, or the ones about how fun it was bargaining at the market.

Why hasn’t that happened to me? Am I that disconnected or is it my body language? Where is this frustration coming from anyways? I hate bargaining, it makes me cringe—I rather use coupons, it’s more refined.

 

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As an introvert, I wanted this trip to push me out of my comfort zone, to teach me about the world, and how I fit in it. So I came to understand that solitude it’s like my charging station and I need it daily, especially when I’m in a stimulating environment on the other side of the world.

 

Maybe I didn’t open myself more because I was never alone to begin with. I traveled with Nuno and we have a dynamic that works. We know each other and we tend to wander by ourselves for hours, only talking about it at the end of the day or during dinner.

 

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I know I’m missing out on getting to know other travelers with which I could share tips and tricks on the best guesthouses, food stalls or transportation. And locals that could teach me more about their culture and cool unknown places to visit. But I don’t open myself easily.

Frankly, visiting most of the places on my own allowed me to be fully present in them. I could orient my focus to what spoke to me: I was aware of details, colors, lights and smells. I now remember details perfectly and I do so because my mind wasn’t divided between where I was, and small talk with a new acquaintance. Isn’t that a sign of a fulfilled experience?

 

Monk in a pathway

Now that I’m back home I’d like to take everybody I know to the places I’ve been. I want to share the food with my family, take my close friends to the most amazing viewpoints and swim with everybody in warm tropical waters.
Maybe I never felt the need to make new friends because I have good ones back home. Maybe I unconsciously realized that the opportunity I sought after was to do everything a second time with them by my side.
Then again, I don’t have that many friends anyways, so it would be quite a private excursion.

 

“Conversation enriches the understanding, but solitude is the school of genius”
– Edward Gibbon

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Travelling as an Introvert: Fostering My Personal Space For a Deeper Connection to the World

  1. Olá!

    Há uma semana estive no trilhos da terra na tertúlia em que contaram a vossa viagem. decidi passar por aqui e conhecer um pouco mais da vossa experiência.
    encontrei este texto e identifiquei-me bastante. uma das razões que me leva a pensar que tenho, com alguma urgência, de viajar, conhecer algo mais e deixar-me mergulhar no desconhecido e no mundo é sem dúvida esta minha tendência em ficar no meu canto. mas, como dizes, a viagem pode mudar muita coisa, mas penso que esta introversão vai estar sempre lá. pode ser algo intrínseco mas também apenas uma ideia demasiado vincada que temos de nós próprios e tudo o que saia fora dessa ideia nos deixa com medo e pensamos demais antes de tentar sermos um pouco mais permeáveis. acredito que estes dois lados estejam ambos certos. nem todos somos iguais, claro, uns mais extrovertidos que outros, mas com o passar do tempo vamos levando menos a sério esta nossa maneira de ser e com isso algumas dificuldades deixam de o ser. penso que seremos mais felizes se aceitarmos como somos. isso traz um relaxamento e leva-nos naturalmente a certas pessoas, a certos amigos e a certos lugares um pouco mais de acordo com a nossa natureza. claro que não rejeitamos o resto, mas precisamos de uma certa identificação. e claro, tempo a sós.
    são coisas que vou percebendo comigo e com pessoas que conheço com estes ‘internal struggles’ todos.
    gostei muito de vos ouvir aos dois e acredito que não tenha sido fácil para alguém um pouco mais introvertido partilhar essa vossa experiência com tanta gente. é difícil estar vulnerável, mas no final penso que compensa. e afinal, a verdadeira prova foi mesmo a enorme viagem que fizeram, onde tiveram que lidar com tanta coisa e tanta gente diferente. agradeço a vossa coragem e partilha!
    tenho esta atração por viagens… a possibilidade de algo novo à nossa espera e onde muita coisa pode mudar deixa-me entusiasmada. mas também tenho noção que a viagem só poderá ser aproveitada totalmente se estivermos presentes e atentos. se arriscarmos um pouco, nem que seja em pequenas coisas. e afinal a transformação pode acontecer mesmo não viajando, porque surpresas acontecem sempre, desde que saibamos aproveitar e que não tenhamos medo do ridículo, por exemplo, ou de falar com alguém, desconhecido ou não, ou de sermos quem somos, com alegria. mas mais uma vez volto: talvez pouco consiga substituir uma viagem. estar noutros sítios ajuda-nos sempre a sair um pouco mais e mais de nós próprios.

    🙂

    no entanto e afinal de contas cada um terá a sua própria experiência. na verdade conceitos e ideias pre-definidas não nos servem.

    tudo de bom,
    obrigada!

    1. Olá Teresa. ?
      Sim, as viagens podem ser um catalisador de mudança.
      Na minha opinião: mudança não da nossa maneira de ser, mas mudança de perspectiva.
      Pelo menos foi isso que mudou em mim.
      Na verdade sou mais daquilo que já era. Não cheguei da viagem super social e extrovertido por me ter exposto ao mundo durante 5 meses. Mas regressei a sentir-me bem na pele de tímido e introvertido.
      E introvertidos ou não, o que importa é ir!

      Fico feliz por teres gostado deste post e grato por teres ido à tertúlia. ?
      Gracias!

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