EXPLORERS ARE NOT BORN BRAVE. Growing up, I was a very sensitive type, often living in my own world. Perhaps because of this, some people would come to see me as sheltered. When I said I wanted to be a traveller and that I wanted to see the world, some would laugh and felt I was too shy to truly dare to see or experience the world. Perhaps I was never really seen as brave. Its also true that when I did travel, I often got overwhelmed, anxious, or a little bit uncomfortable. When we think of great explorers, we think of thrill seekers, not snowflakes like Walter Mitty. But do you really have to be brave to want to see the world? Or is it enough to just dream about it? Do Explorers need to be brave? What can you do as a highly sensitive explorer?
I always wanted to travel but I also found it stressful
Growing up, I would always be looking at maps, reading about different cultures, daydreaming about seeing new places. My choice superpower would be flight or teleportation, something that could take me around and expose me to things that were new and interesting. Growing up, the boredom of day-to-day life always caught at me, and my choice of travel as a kid was books of epic fantasy worlds and places I had never been to before. Exploration has always been so important to me and to my growth. When I did go out and get to talk to new people, I felt so happy. I experienced a time of liberation when I hit my late teens and realised I could go anywhere I wanted, so I went out and saw the world, even if it sometimes made me uncomfortable, stressed, and exhausted. Your passion can still be something difficult, something challenging, something that is hard on you at times. To be a passion, it just has to be something you value and feel interested in.
Travel like a Highly Sensitive Person
Perhaps there is a risk that if I cling to certain sides of myself: the sensitive, the careful, the thoughtful, the withdrawn, introverted aspects, they will come at the expense of going out and seeing the world. I have certainly had many years where I spent every day inside my own mind and few days travelling: but that was when I was depressed. When I was happy, and in synch with myself, I always made sure to fill my life with novelty. And as an intuitive and judging type, that novelty is not flashy car rides, loud and busy streets or fast-paced action movies. I have always been a wanderer.
One of my favourite past-times was getting lost. Another was coming up with new visions or speculating about how to reach my next destination. My thought was always on “What can I do after this?” My head always full of things to do. Every new experience gives me new ideas and helps me develop as a writer. Every person I meet teaches me something new about humanity. I always thought there was a conflict between my need for novelty and my sensitivity, but maybe there isn’t?
I have come to develop a slow-paced travelling style. Most tourists will find themselves rushing to go to every museum or historical location. They need to get the most out of every hour. I travel for longer times when I can, 1-3 weeks as the ideal. I spend a lot of time in a cozy AirBnB apartment. I sit down at nice and cozy cafes or relax in parks with books. I sit and watch the people from a quiet and cozy location. I always thought to be a traveller, you had to rush, be swift, and stress. Now I know that is not true.