How Traveling Helps You Overcome Self Consciousness

My current trip through Southeast Asia has boosted my self esteem. I am far less self-conscious and far more confident since leaving the States over 18 months ago.

Traveling forces you into uncomfortable situations you would otherwise duck. Whether you are dealing with a language barrier or living in a neighborhood where you stick out like a sore thumb, traveling can quickly help you to get over yourself.

Most people are highly self conscious, afraid to be or look different for fear of being criticized. When you hit the road to live in far off locales you can’t possibly avoid situations where you will be different from virtually every person you see.

This, combine with the fact that you will need to communicate with individuals who do not speak your language forces you to put yourself out there, which is an excellent prescription to cure the disease of self consciousness.

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Living in a Local Neighborhood

During my stay in Hanoi I lived in an apartment which sat in the heart of a Vietnamese neighborhood. No tourists or expats here, just thousands of Vietnamese people who lived in the most densely populated section of a populous city.

Whenever I left my apartment many people simply stared at me, not used to seeing a Westerner in this neck of the woods. I quickly learned to get over myself and my uncomfortable feelings. In truth, the staring had nothing to do with me, because some people didn’t stare at all. It was all about the people staring.

Some Vietnamese people were simply surprised to see a Westerner in this section of Hanoi. It was a pretty unusual situation for them. Some children probably hadn’t seen too many Westerners at all in their short lives, especially where we were living, so they were naturally going to stare.

This experience helped me to not take myself too seriously, and not to feel embarrassed about looking different.

Language Barrier

Few people can avoid feeling self conscious when speaking in a foreign language. Even if you are fluent, your biggest fear is screwing up and sounding funny to native speakers.

If you can only speak a few words it might feel all the more awkward, and your self consciousness thoughts can run away with your mind if you are not careful.

On a few occasions I found myself totally lost in a taxi cab, having no clue how to communicate to the driver where I needed to go. The interactions between the driver and I brought up my self conscious feelings quite quickly, but as I experienced these situations with people in many different circumstances it helps to boost my confidence.

Through habit, I was able to defeat many of my self conscious tendencies. I shied away less and went out more. I spoke to people more frequently, and smiled more too.

You can learn a great deal about yourself and your self consciousness by living in a foreign environment for an extended period of time. Travel, embrace the feelings which might arise and reduce your self conscious feelings, building stronger confidence along the way.

Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who is also an avid traveler. She always enjoys the opportunity to write about travel-related topics where she can share her own experiences and insights. If the idea of hitting the open road in an RV sounds appealing to you, check out Dave Arbogast RV.

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