of a slightly obsessive, anxious, perfectionist female mess
Today marks 2 months and 1 week (or approximately 70 days/10 weeks/100800 minutes) until I jump on a plane and begin the 20 hour flight to the Eternal City, Rome.
Rome, Pisa, Florence, Venice, Verona, Germany, Amsterdam, London, Cardiff
and Paris – just to name a few stops on my journey. Five whole weeks of adventure and exploring. Witnessing different cultures and absorbing historical structures.
It’s been said travelling changes a person. It changes the way you relate to the world. It changes your perspective and as a first time traveller this is something I am really excited about. Let’s just say I am more than ready to fall in love with Rome.
But with the excitement there is apprehension and anxiety. I like order and organisation. I can be a perfectionist and a clean freak. I like structure and am comfortable in/ enjoy my daily routines.
Certain experiences, outside influences, relationships, genetics and personal characteristics mean I get anxious. It’s hasn’t always been this way and I hate it. I’m not as spontaneous as I once was (which at the age of 23, is really a bit sad). I’m still learning how to overcome it completely and while researching my trip, the realisation of the complete lack of control I’ll have for those 5 weeks really hit me – and I began to feel the panic rise up and bubble in the back of my throat.
Being the ultimate
obsessive researcher that I am, I’ve already downloaded numerous travel apps and have created folders on my I-phone corresponding to the place of travel (plus a general folder for the ones that can’t be categorised).
I’ve not only googled the standard “what to see and do” but I’ve looked up “where to get authentic pizza in Rome”, “customs and etiquette”, “what to pack”, “can I drink the tap water” and about a hundred other questions. You name it – I’ve googled it.
I have found myself translating certain phrases and looking up healthy menu options and which to avoid like the plague (these include Lampredotto, a popular Florentine dish featuring boiled cow’s stomach and Boudin Noir a french food also called a blood sausage. Uh no thank you.)
What started as one question has spiralled into several days, notepads full of hastily scribbled notes and a mini obsession.
Like for many women the food was in the forefront on my mind. More so the fact that I will gain weight. There’s really no ifs about it when you’re going to the pizza, pasta, carb capital of the world. The fear of how fat I’m going to get on this trip with the abundance of carbs, pasta’s, pizza’s, pastries and fried foods, wine and so many rich foods I haven’t allowed myself in years. I mean do they even have vegetables over there?! (I worried somewhat irrationally). This fear could only be fixed by more knowledge. And the research continued in the form of a internet search bar and terms like “traditional healthy italian salads – without the oil”.
For me these more pressing worries are most likely fuelled by/ left over from a disordered eating past, which can still affect and influence me today. But this doesn’t mean it’s not something we all think about or stress over when going somewhere new.
The thought of picking up a menu and not recognising a single food (healthy or unhealthy) – strikes an irrational fear into the heart of my soul. And despite my best effort to learn the basics of Italian, German and French through an I-phone app, I am not even close to being a multilingual master.
Overseas I will have almost no control. No safe, comfortable place to go and hide. To take a beat. Not when you are hundreds of miles from home.
I am going to be completely out of my comfort zone (hence the information cramming now). But with all this research I can already feel myself ruining the trip. Not only for myself but for those I’m going with and I haven’t even left yet. This worries me almost as much as the food itself.
So my goal is to let go of these limitations. These boxes that we create for ourselves hold us back and ultimately affect us more than the thing or situation we fear (whatever it may be), ever could.
I hope the notion that travelling will change a person is true. I hope it really opens my eyes. I hope I allow it to.
I hope traveling helps me to put my perfectionism and food issues into perspective or aside completely – because God knows there’s so much living to do and these things only hold us back from having a full and happy life.
I don’t want to shy away. What I’ve decided I want to do is to use this experience as a chance to get to know myself again. I don’t want to go with all these pre convinced notions I hold about myself, what I should do, what I should want. What’s healthy what’s not. What are my comforts and my limits. Nope. I’m not packing them for this trip. It’s almost as if I’m taking an empty suitcase.
I don’t want to be held back or restricted.
I don’t want to be the girl who… “doesn’t eat that” or “is afraid of this”, “ doesn’t do that”, “doesn’t like that”.
Maybe she does!
I want to try it all. I want to make the most of this once in a life time experience, an experience I never thought I’d get the opportunity to have.
One of my close friends suggested do a ‘Yes Man’ where I have to say yes to every thing that comes my way – “even if it is an offal dish at a restaurant” she laughed.
So that’s what I’m going to try and do. But we all know these things are easier said than done.
Have you been in a situation where you’ve really have to push out of your comfort zone to fully embrace a situation or event?
How did you deal? Did you go in with a plan or did you not let yourself even think/worry about it at all.
I’d also love to hear tips and suggestions on travelling.