Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Feeling The Fear & Doing it Anyway ... One Step at a Time

    Okay, quick recap; I'm not good with travelling. People who read this blog will know this about me by now - and for a long time, it's held me back. I've rarely travelled far, especially by myself, and my anxieties (I believe rooted in my dyspraxia) have often held me back.

    Right, that's us all up to date. I should say, I've started really taking a long hard look at my anxieties at that aspect of my life, because I want to start "feeling the fear and doing it anyway" - my new motto in life! I have to be patient with myself - I need to conquer my anxieties slowly and steadily, else I'll just go back to the start again - but I've made a couple of trips to London (would have been three, but I was ill on the third) and started to tackle my worries head on.

    Part of my slowly-increasing confidence is down to my current job, which I started back in July and involves some travel around the eastern "half" of the county. I have two main locations I visit when not at my "home" location - one is 30 minutes on the train and one is 45 minutes away. The first few times, I got hideously lost and a bit stressed as a result; as I've learnt the route (and even some short-cuts), I've actually found myself giving directions to other people ... crazy.

    Anyhow - I recently found that I had a free afternoon and decided to be impulsive for a change. For anyone who knows me, you'll know that's not really in my nature - I always try and plan to the nth degree, which I am pretty positive must drive people insane sometimes, but I like to be prepared for all eventualities as being in control of a situation usually helps me control my worries.

    However, I decided to test myself - and so, being only an hour from London at lunchtime, I decided to jump on a train and see where the afternoon took me. Oh yes, the other thing I should mention - I loathe the underground. I. Hate. It. I've never used it by myself - and even when I'm with other people, it makes me distinctly ... ahem, uncomfortable. It's been a personal mission of mine for a while to use the underground by myself and, when I arrived at Victoria, I could feel my legs carrying me outside the station away from the tube station.

    It was at this point I got cross with myself and just bloody did it. I went on the underground by myself - and think I've begun to conquer a personal demon in the process. I should say, I didn't go far - I went two stops along the South Kensington, then four stops back along to Westminster, but it felt - and still feels like a real accomplishment. To many people, it may not seem like much, but for me, it's a big stepping stone - it means I've got no excuse to not try it again, and perhaps not feeling like I'm going to have a heart attack the next time!

    My brief visit to South Kensington allowed me a quick trip around the Victoria & Albert art museum - somewhere I've never been before. I'm determined to go again in the new year and have a proper look round - although, given its size and layout, I have no doubt I will get lost going round! Still, that doesn't matter ... as long as I can find the cafe, I'll be happy.

    I then travelled to Westminster - just because I felt like it and wanted to prove that my tube travelling wasn't just a one-off - and had a mooch around. One thing about London that I'm starting to notice - places really aren't as far apart as you actually think. Parliament, Whitehall, Buckingham Palace, the Cenotaph, Trafalgar Square ... they're all incredibly close to one another. I even walked past Downing Street and saw armed police again (I'd seen similar back in the Summer when I visited Parliament) on the gates - being from the "provinces", I can't quite get used to that.

    By this point, I'd been on my mini-tour for about three hours ... and my legs were aching something chronic, so I did the only logical thing and decided to WALK back to Victoria train station, thirty minutes away. Obviously.

    Although I got lost a couple of times when I got my bearings confused, I was able to contain and understand the source of my anxieties a lot better - and so deal with them. I feel exhausted now - mentally as well as physically - as I always do after being in unfamiliar territory; I have to concentrate on where I'm walking to make sure I don't physically walk into things. Happens more often than you'd think!

    So ... a productive afternoon. I've proved to myself that I can move beyond my previously implacable "issues", albeit it at my own (often stubborn) pace. I write about my experiences of travelling because I wonder how many others experience similar things - and, if there are, hope that we can always learn from each other!

    Oh yeah - here are a few photos from my exploration ...

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