A (solo) picture tells a thousand words

Dear Taipei,

If you’ll be so kind, I’d like to share an anecdote from yours truly.

Yesterday after parting from my friends, I was strolling around in a department store when I saw a huddle of people. Curious, I went over and saw they were waiting to have a go at an instant photobooth set up for the brand YSL.

As each group of friends entered and came out with beaming smiles, I became more interested to have a go. The only problem was that I was outrageously alone. Although I’m sure no one else around would give a damn, I myself felt very self conscious. Maybe it’s because whilst I love to have alone time, I have never been one to do typically couple/group things like go to the movies, all by myself.

I had been lining up, and as it got nearer and nearer to my turn I thought about just dashing. I know it sounds silly but I felt a bit ridiculous for wanting to take these photos, despite not having anyone to take them with me.

When it finally got to my turn, I thought, what the hell! I want to take these damn photos, so dammit, I’m going to take them! As I waited for the timer to count down from a painstakingly long twenty seconds, I saw someone approaching me from the other side.

Much to my horor, it was a YSL lady who came to tell me that the photo booth was only for customers and that I definitely shouldn’t be using it. There had been no signs or attendants monitoring the machine, so this was completely unbeknownst to me. What a faux pas!

The timer was clicking down for my second photo, and I didn’t know what to do. Finally, she begrudgingly said I could finish taking the photos. She stood there, staring at me stone faced as it neared the time of the flash. I wanted to just slink away because as you can imagine, it was really very awkward!

But then, in my second bout of dogged attitude, I thought I should just finish what I wanted to do. I’d worked myself up to this point, I couldn’t abandon my plan now, right?

The whole time, she was staring menacingly at me as if I was some sort of delinquent. It was only a couple of minutes through and through, but it felt horrendously long. I managed to finish, stupid poses and all (!), despite the utter awkwardness of it all.

IMAG9627_1.jpg

(Yeah, not going to be a model anytime soon!)

As soon as I was done she huffingly turned the machine off, and I walked away, a bit embarrassed but mostly proud to hold that strip of photos in my hand.

I know this experience might only have some odd significance to me, so if you even just got a bit of a chuckle out of it that’s good to hear.

But maybe- and I know this is stretching it- if you’re someone like me that often feels awkward about doing certain things solo, or feels painfully self conscious at certain times, or even just feels reservation about pushing yourself out of your comfort zone you can take but a pinch from my photo booth story.

I know I neither did anything nor am saying anything here that is revolutionary in the slightest. I’m sure some people reading this think I’m being too trite. But my point wasn’t to say anything you haven’t heard before. Rather, I thought I’d share this for myself to look back on one day, and also, to highlight to anyone who can empathise with my feelings that sometimes pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and just saying “hey, you know what, I’ve got this” is important. Because, at least speaking personally, when you’re by yourself it’s easy to feel like you lack certain qualities that to everyone else, you seemingly have.

I think how we are around others and by ourselves is more often than not vastly dissimilar. I know that I’m almost two different people when in company and by myself. Often when I’m alone I feel as if all my insecurities come out to play in full force. This is probably why I’m very social most of the time, because that side is relatively a lot more self-assured, amongst other more favourable traits compared to my solo self. Given the stark difference between these two sides, I often wonder which part is “truly” me. But really, it would make sense to say they both are, wouldn’t it?

Trying to be OK with being just by myself is something I’ve been working on slowly for a while. Scrap that, I- we- should be aiming to be just as comfortable being by ourselves as with other people. Just as fun, just as confident, just as outgoing. Of course, there’s always going to be a difference between social you and alone you, but if that dissonance makes you feel uncomfortable, maybe it’s worth looking into why.

Ultimately, this whole issue isn’t even about being “alone”, it’s more about trying to be more comfortable with exactly who you are. Because it’s not the fact that you’re alone that makes certain things uncomfortable, it’s that being alone forces you to just focus on you and possibly confront those feelings, emotions or traits that you can usually keep at bay. When you’re by yourself there’s no one else to help you deflect or ease discomfort, no one else to encourage you to step up and try but yourself.

That is why those silly photos and this whole silly story means a lot to me- both parts and all.

-TTT

I’d love to hear any stories you’re willing share of pushing yourself out of your comfort zone or any thoughts on what I wrote. Please leave a comment below- I’m looking forward to hearing from you! 🙂

 

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15 comments

  1. Naughty naghty! have fun jare! (Jare means just do it your way in Yoruba, a Nigerian Language)

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    1. Hi! Oh that’s interesting, I love hearing other languages! I will try to have more “jare” this year, and I hope you can too!:)

      Liked by 1 person

    2. How interesting! I love learning words from other languages, so thank you! I hope this year I will have more “jare”, and also wish you to as well! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you typingtptaipel , ose o ! (Thank you in Yoruba)

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m trying to do things by myself more and more and it is astonishingly difficult. I went to the Fine Arts Museum and biked around a couple times. It’s really freeing and calming. I think it’s one of the best ways to travel and I’m trying to get better and better at it. Great post 🙂

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    1. Hi Maureen!

      Always so lovely to hear from you!

      Thank you for reading and leaving a comment:) That’s wonderful you took some time out for yourself. I always enjoy going to art galleries alone too. Sure, it is also fun to go with someone so you can discuss your different perspectives, but sometimes it’s nice just to be with your own thoughts and be completely “in the zone”.

      I really must do some more solo travel… it is definitely something I think about day to day!

      Hope you’re keeping dry and warm in the cold, rainy weather!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Aw, this reminds me of when I was at this horror film exhibit at a museum by myself recently. I decided to sit in this “scream booth” where you have to scream into the camera, and as it was counting down, tons of kids on a field trip gathered around the other side of the door giggling and staring at me. Much different than a menacing lady though – I just decided to fully commit to it and it was really funny (Why be embarrassed after having done JET?). I admire your bravery in this situation though!

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    1. Hello! What a surprise to see a comment from you! Made my day 😀

      Oh, that sounds like it would have been quite horrifying at the time! All you wanted to do was have some fun, and then those kids tried to bring you down. I hope you managed to still have a great time though. Sure makes you think how even the little interactions we have with people have the potential to stay with them much longer than you’d imagine.

      That’s awesome you went on that ride alone, that takes major guts! I will have to add that to the list hehe.

      Yes, you’d think after JET we could handle almost anything!

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    1. Thank you so much Deeptesh!:D

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  4. Thank you for sharing this. I’ll be going to Taipei on my own soon for 7 months to learn Mandarin and this really comforted me. Everyone has been telling me horror stories of travelling alone but I really want to do this for myself and to grow from this experience.

    Btw, I just stumbled upon your blog actually and I’m really loving your posts, I hope Taiwan will be just as exciting for me as it was for you 🙂

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    1. Hey Halimah! Thank you for reading my post and for commenting, it was a real pleasure to find your comment in my inbox!

      How exciting for you! Deciding to move here to study must have been a very daunting decision, but you know what, you’ve done the hardest part! I’m sorry you’ve heard so many horror stories, but really, don’t let it get to you! Whilst I can’t guarantee your time in Taiwan will be without any troubles, I can at least tell you that Taiwan is an incredibly safe country. I can honestly say I’ve never felt as safe in all my travels as I have here.

      I saw a recent survey that stated Taiwan was the safest country in the world! Well, that is certainly comforting!

      Don’t worry about getting around if you don’t know any Mandarin either. I have so many friends who don’t study so hardly know anything past the very basics who survive very well! When I first got here I knew NOTHING and it was fine (although it made for some funny situations!)

      Studying here is going to be a great life experience for you. Mandarin is such an interesting language that I hope you will fall in love with! Living abroad anywhere is so worthwhile, and I personally can’t recommend Taipei any more than I always do 😛 It’s so culturally rich, but also modern. It’s different from most western places, but also has things that will comfort you with their familiarity. I won’t even get started how delicious the food is… and the people are some of the friendliest you’ll ever meet.

      Don’t worry, you will be more than fine!! Just drop me a line if you’ve got any questions or need further reassuring 😀

      Cheers!

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  5. Great article. Really spoke to me, especially as this is something I’ve been learning myself over the past 2 years. If you don’t do it, nobody will do it for you – this is what I’ve taken away from travelling alone, and what I remind myself every time I find myself in a situation outside of my comfort zone.

    And as the great Spiderman once said – the greatest battle lies within (Spiderman 3 for reference).

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    1. Hi Skyline!
      Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment, really appreciate it!

      You certainly speak words of truth! I think it sounds harsh at first that “you can only rely on yourself” but to an extent it is really true. As you said, if you don’t do it, nobody will do it for you. You have to take the initiative to do certain things in life, whether it be to go somewhere, try something new or even improve yourself.

      Hahah, awesome, my first Spiderman quote on here! I loved watching the first two back in the day (with Toby McGuire), I haven’t seen the third unfortunately!

      Like

  6. […] a characteristic that I’d ever associated myself with. Although lately I’ve been trying be more comfortable doing things alone, I still consider myself a primarily social […]

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