If you’re on my email list, you’ve already heard a little bit about the solo trip I took recently… But today I'm going to tell you how it all went! If you had asked me ten years ago if I’d ever go on a solo trip I would’ve said “Heck no!”, because even doing the everyday things was a struggle. As you know, back then I was really struggling with anxiety, panic disorder, and agoraphobia. I would’ve never thought this was something I’d do, let alone want to do!
But that’s exactly why I want to share the details of my trip with you today. Because when I was navigating agoraphobia, I rarely did things alone. But now, I have the courage to do things that are uncomfortable, scary, and unfamiliar. And the same will be true for you, too!
My Solo Trip and Not Letting Fear Choose
So about a month ago, I booked an Airbnb in the White Mountains in New Hampshire. And if you know anything about me, it’s that I love hiking and the outdoors (and helping others build a healthy relationship with anxiety, of course!), so I wanted to make sure my solo trip was filled with lots of nature and hiking. When I first booked the Airbnb, I was so excited! But shortly after my mind started to go to the place that brains often go to... I started asking myself “Is it smart to be going to the mountains by yourself? Is it safe? Can I handle this?”... and so on.
My mind was trying to come up with all sorts of reasons to keep me in my comfort zone. My brain was throwing any doubts it could find at me! Two days before the trip, the Airbnb host said that something in the Airbnb needed to be fixed, and wouldn’t be repaired until after my stay. And immediately I thought “this is a sign that I shouldn’t go!". I’m not going to lie, I was tempted to cancel. Ultimately, I decided to do it anyway!
Also, my daughter had gotten sick the day before I was set to leave, and at that moment, I was convinced I wouldn’t be going. But my husband, Adam, assured me that sticking to my plans was the right choice. So, despite things feeling a little scary and uncomfortable about this trip (staying in a home by myself in the mountains, being away from Amelia for a few days, hiking by myself, and not knowing how it’d all look)… I packed up my car and I didn’t let fear choose.
I think it’s so important to remember that our brains want us to choose comfort over discomfort. And that’s not because you’re struggling with an anxiety disorder… it’s because you’re a human being. Comfort might feel safe because it’s familiar, but discomfort doesn’t mean you’re not safe. And that’s why when things feel hard, it’s likely because you’re doing something unfamiliar… and allowing yourself to feel these feelings means you’re taking healthy action!
And at this point, you might be wondering… Soo, how'd the trip go?! And I can honestly say, the trip went great! I felt some unease about staying alone at night, but I also enjoyed it! I enjoyed the quiet, read a good book, and ate alone at a cute little restaurant. I hiked without experiencing any anxiety, and I felt so present! So I want you to remember that there are amazing things on the other side of discomfort, my friend. And although it can be so hard to face fear and anxiety, it gives you lots of peace, joy, and freedom in return. So let this be your reminder to push yourself to take the step that you don’t feel ready for. And let yourself see just how truly capable you are!
Some pictures from my trip!
All right, I took a solo trip. And I did not let fear choose. If you're on my weekly email list, you already know a little bit about this recent solo trip that I took. But I cannot wait to dive into it all here and share with you how it all went. So this was my first solo trip, and well, probably forever. So when I was struggling with anxiety, panic and agoraphobia, I rarely did things alone, especially trips. And even though I've been recovered for several years now, I still hadn't done something like this because it's pretty outside of my comfort zone. And it's something that I really hadn't felt called to do until recently. So about a month ago, I booked an Airbnb and the White Mountains in New Hampshire. And if you've been listening to the podcast for a bit now, or if you've been following me on social media, you probably already know that I love the outdoors. I love nature, and I love hiking. And so I wanted to make this trip about doing the things that I love most, spending lots of time in nature and hiking and just reconnecting with myself. So this Airbnb, I found was in such a great location, like it is October, the fall foliage here is insane. It's just it was close to the mountains, it was relatively close to a small town, it was just a super cute place. And I'll tell you, when I booked it, I was really excited. I was like, Yes, I'm doing this, this is gonna be so good. I can't wait. But then something happened that you're probably familiar with my brain pretty quickly went to the place of what did you just do? Like, why are you doing this and Airbnb in the mountains? By yourself? Like, this doesn't sound like a good idea. Do you even really want to do this. And I'm gonna be honest with you, my mind was trying to come up with all of the reasons for me to not do this. And to keep me in my comfort zone. Like it throughout me, maybe it isn't safe. Like maybe it isn't safe to stay in an Airbnb by yourself. Like, especially in the mountains, it's kind of in the woods. And I also had my mom and my mom's fear in my brain, you know, she was telling me, Shannon, I get it, I get why you're doing this is going to be so good for you. But maybe you should just book a hotel room, so that you can be close to other people. And I love my mom, right, I get it now that I'm a mom, I understand I understand her worry. But I had to also acknowledge that her fear was getting in the mix. And I couldn't let her fear take a hold of me. But this was one of the things that my brain throughout me, my brain also threw at me, are you actually ready to do these hikes by yourself like these hiking in the White Mountains is, is pretty serious. Like it can be pretty remote. And of course, we have bigger mountains and our weather here is getting colder, it can be kind of unpredictable. So of course my brain was like, Is this really even safe, especially hiking by yourself? I just want to put in this, I'm always safe. I always do loads of preparation. I have lots of experience hiking. But my brain, of course was throwing at me like is this really safe to hike by yourself? Of course, the other thing in the equation is you're you're a female, you know, is it safe to hike by yourself all these things? And also I had in this mix, what about your ankle? Because if you've been following me, you know, you know, I sprained my ankle, probably two and a half months, three months ago, and I really been struggling with it. And so my brain was like, what if it's not quite healed? What if you injure yourself while hiking so many things. And then I also had in my brain, this is a couple of nights away from Amelia, which is just really uncomfortable because I don't spend time away from her. And my brain was like, Maybe you shouldn't go you know, she just started school and she's still adjusting and it probably be better if you stay at home.
Yeah, my brain was throwing it all at me. And I'm sure this sounds familiar, because this is a lot of anticipatory fear. It's a lot of anticipatory anxiety it's trying to throw your brain is trying to keep you safe. It's trying to throw all the things that you and that these thoughts these feelings and the thoughts can then lead to are really overwhelming. And so I know of course, these are just thoughts. This is just fear. It's okay, I I'm still going to do this. But then a few days before I was set to leave, I got a message from the Airbnb host. And she explained to me that there was something at the Airbnb that needed to be fixed, but it wouldn't be fixed.
Before my stay, and so she gave me two options, she said, you can either cancel and I'll fully refund you your money. Or you can keep the reservation and I'll give you a partial refund. And of course, my brain was like, it's a sign, this is a sign like this is your way out. Don't do it. And I'm not gonna lie, I was tempted to cancel. But I said, No, I'm doing this. And I gladly took the partial refund.
And then, a day before I was set to leave, Amelia got sick. And she came down with a pretty high fever. And it was just so overwhelming. And I thought, oh my gosh, I'm definitely not going now. Like I need to just cancel, I need to stay with here with her.
I need to stay with her. Like, clearly this trip just isn't meant to be. But thankfully, I have Adam.
But thankfully, Adam assured me that he could take care of Amelia, he was like, we will be absolutely fine. I will take great care of her. And he encouraged me to keep my plans. And I have to say here, I'm so grateful that I have a supportive partner. Because the whole time Adam is saying you can do this, you're capable of this, I'm not worried at all, like just go, you're going to be so happy that you went.
So with so many feelings, like with so many things, feeling a little scary and uncomfortable about this trip, like staying in a home by myself in the mountains and being away from Amelia for a few days and hiking by myself and not knowing what all of it would look like. I packed up my car, and I didn't let fear choose. But before I tell you how it actually all went, I want to talk to you about something really important for a minute.
Our brains will always want us to choose what's comfortable over what's uncomfortable. It's like that safety mechanism that's in our brains. That doesn't quite always make sense. But it's our brains trying to protect us. And this isn't just because you struggle with an anxiety disorder like this is a human thing. Our brains want us to choose what's familiar, because familiarity feels good. Familiarity can even feel safe. But familiar is just familiar. Familiarity is comfortable. But familiarity, and even comfort doesn't equal safety. So sometimes when you're wondering why something feels so hard, or why you feel so scared or anxious, and you're like I don't get it. This is so silly. It's likely because it's something that's not so familiar or comfortable to you. And I'm not just talking about the physical things, I think we often go there and think of okay, it's, you know, driving further distances is uncomfortable because I don't often do it or going to bigger stores or getting on public transportation or on an airplane. I'm also talking about allowing yourself to feel anxious.
I'm also talking about allowing yourself to feel anxious, which is something that you might not be allowing yourself to do and might not have been allowing yourself to do for quite some time now. So of course, when you practice allowing yourself to feel anxious, it's going to feel incredibly uncomfortable, and your brain is going to push back. So, so much of the recovery journey, right? It's about recognizing when fear and anxiety shows up, and practicing letting that discomfort in and really leaning into it. It means not going with what feels comfortable and familiar. It means not letting fear convince us that the uncomfortable choice is the unsafe choice. You can choose the uncomfortable choice and still be very safe.
So when my brain was pushing back before the trip, I had to just slow down and acknowledge what was going on. And I had to say, hey, fear, I see you, I feel you. But you don't get to decide for me. I know that there are amazing things on the other side of the sphere. And I want to experience them. I'm going to experience that.
And I also recognize that even though there were lots of uncertainty is like I didn't have any clue how a lot of this was going to look. I had to make space and leave room for the good. I couldn't just say all the uncertainties means that a bunch of bad things are gonna happen or that things are going to be unenjoyable, I'm not going to have fun. Like I had to remind myself that good things could and would happen even though I felt scared
You know, this is something that we often don't do is we don't make space for that goodness. You know, you can feel scared and uncomfortable and anxious, but it doesn't mean that all bad things are gonna happen just because there are so many uncertainties. He gotta leave room for the good.
So what happened on my trip? Well, I stayed in Airbnb for two nights by myself. And I did have some feelings about it some feelings of unease, because, to be honest, I've always hated staying by myself at night, like even in my own house. I've always had this since I was a kid. I don't know. I think it's probably because I didn't spend much time alone as a kid. But it's hard for me like we live in Maine, we live in an a more rural area. And so at night, like if Adams not home, I feel a little bit uneasy. I've gotten better with it, more at peace and more comfortable with it. But it's taking quite a bit of practice. So I had to recognize it made sense for me to feel uneasy. And when I made space for me to feel uneasy about it, I saw that I started to enjoy it a little bit more. Like it was quiet, I was able to just sit outside on the deck and enjoy a good book. I stayed outside, you know, I watched the bats. I watched the sun go down, like it was just so cool. I got to just be and quiet and be with myself and actually enjoy my own company, which was really cool. I also went out to dinner by myself, which is something that I never do.
It's just one of those things that I don't do it. And so of course it's uncomfortable. But I actually enjoyed myself, I met some locals, I had some, you know, small conversations with them. I laughed, and I had a very amazing meal. Like it was so good at this little local restaurant. And so I was so glad that I pushed myself to go.
And I hiked like I hiked as much as I possibly could. I hiked two mountains in one day. And on one mountain, it was pretty remote. Like I only saw one other person on the hike. And please don't tell my mom this.
The other hike I did, it was a pretty popular mountain because let's face it, I wanted to see the amazing fall foliage at the White Mountains offer this time of year. And it was well worth it despite it being super busy. And I would say that one day I hiked like, over six miles, I hiked miles and miles into the remote mountains. I just was with myself. And I was so present. And it makes me emotional to acknowledge the place that I've gotten.
But I didn't have an ounce of fear or anxiety while I was hiking, which is just, it still blows my mind that I'm in this place. But it was so cool. Just to see myself
being truly present, being truly worth myself and just feeling good. Like I've got myself i i truly it's the stepping outside of yourself in these moments where you're now recovered. And you would see what this would have looked like when you were struggling and you know, it would have been a fight. You know, it would have been hard, because I used to do it while I was struggling not by myself. But I used to do hikes with other people and it was really hard. And I didn't really enjoy myself. And I was constantly convincing myself that
we should probably turn around because we were so far from any quote, safety. And if something did happen, or if I did have a really panic, bad panic attack, I just wouldn't be okay. And it would just be really awful.
And to now be able to see
none of that was ever true. Like I have always been the safety that I was so desperately thinking I needed and searching for. Like I was my safe place. And now having really strongly created that belief within myself.
It's just the most amazing thing.
Like when you work so freakin hard for so long to put that trust back within yourself and to not continue to go along with anxiety and fear.
And you're able to actually see, no, I am safe within myself. I can trust myself. I can do anything like truly. I've got this
And it was just so cool to spend time with me. And to just it, I was so happy, I experienced so much joy, and the hiking and the being in nature and being with myself, which I think was something that I was actually really scared of that I don't think I recognized until after my trip. I think I was incredibly scared to be with myself. Because it's not something that I do very often. I think it's different where,
yes, I work from home, I'm often by myself, I spend a lot of time by myself. But it's not in stillness, it's not in quiet. And it's so different when you're in stillness and quiet with yourself. Because as you know, right, a lot comes up in the quiet and in the stillness. And we we push away from that we shy away from that, because when things get quiet, and still a lot comes up and facing yourself, and really doing that work on creating a healthy relationship with yourself and continuing to build confidence and trust and, and all of that within you is so tough, but it's so, so freeing. And it's just so cool. So I also want to share one of the other really great parts was that
I got to see that Amelia was okay without me.
I'll be honest, I don't spend much time away from her. And it was just really cool to see her still carry on. And to thrive, and we video chatted and and she was laughing, you know, and we laughed and we connected. And I felt so proud of her and so proud of me. And it made me see that this is also really healthy for her just as much as it is for me to see that she can trust herself, and that she doesn't need me all the time. And it's also what I was learning. Like, gosh, dang, there were so many good lessons in this solo trip. And also, it's super cute. I made her a card before I left. And she literally carried it around with her everywhere. She went for the few days that I was gone. And it just made me so happy. But it made me also acknowledge that she knows right, she knows and trust. I'm here and I will always come back and I will always be her mom and I will always care for her. And these are things that I needed to see for myself like that I will always be here for me, I will always care for myself, I've always got myself.
Which in life, it just feels like now of course, there's no greater lessons than feeling like you can be very connected with yourself and trust yourself and know that you have yourself no matter what.
So then I was packing up at the Airbnb to head home and my brain dead what brains do, right? It sad. I don't know, I don't know if he really liked this solo traveling, like it probably would have been more fun to share this experience with other people. And I just had to laugh. And I said to myself, hey, fear, I'll see you again soon.
Because even after just this short trip,
I can feel how much more connected to myself I am. I can feel myself expanding and growing. And it feels so freakin good. So there are so many more adventures to come including solo ones, and especially ones where I feel in every ounce of my body, that I shouldn't do it. I know that I should go there, I know that I should do it. I know that those are signs that are pointing me toward what I should do what I need to do what I want to do what is good for me to do.
So I want you to remember this. There are so many amazing things on the other side of discomfort and you will heal and you will expand and you will grow on the other side of discomfort. It doesn't happen in our comfort zones. And although it's so freakin hard to face anxiety and fear, I know it will always give you something in return. And that is peace and joy and happiness and freedom and you deserve all of it.
So until next time, I want you to push yourself to take that step that you don't feel like you're ready for that maybe that step that your brain is telling you don't do it don't go there. It's not safe. We can't do that.
Push yourself to step outside of your comfort zone. And that's where you're gonna hit
See how capable you are
so keep taking healthy action