You know those posts about introverts you can find online? They say stuff like introverts are uncomfortable at parties, they only have one or two friends, they prefer to spend all their time indoors like hermits and they enjoy studying the world from a distance. I used to read these posts and could relate to every single one of them, or at least so I thought. They made me feel like I was ok and I didn’t need to change, but the truth was I did need to change, I just didn’t know it. So how did a girl who grew up shy and who had labeled herself an introvert, end up traveling and meeting people from all of over the world? I often think about how traveling has changed my outlook on life as well as changed my view of myself.

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Traveling alone was not always easy for me. Though the actual traveling part was wonderful, I was born to travel, the talking to new people was not and never has been my cup of tea. It took me awhile to warm up to conversing with people I didn’t know.  One of my very first solo journeys was to Costa Rica. When you are one of very few foreigners in a small town, people from your country tend to reach out. I would get stopped in the street and asked by random people who I was, where I was from and what I was doing in Costa Rica. This type of thing was scary for me at first, but when you are in another country and you miss home and speaking your own language, you start to associate meeting strangers from your country or who speak your language, with home.  In this way I think I began to see meeting new people in a positive way.

The first time I traveled out of the country by myself was at 21. I felt like I was seeing colors that I never knew existed. I remember writing in my journal that discovering other cultures and people was like adding colors to a rainbow. Traveling is wonderful and I will always be in love with it, but I never dreamed I would fall in love with meeting new people. I learned more about myself in a single trip than I ever did in college. I got to know a part of my personality I had hidden quite well.

I am not the shy girl anymore! I go out of my way to meet people. Especially while traveling, I can’t wait to be at a hostel and hear stories from other travelers on where they are from or where they are going. When I return home from trips I surprise myself on how much friendlier I am when I am out than I was before the trip. Traveling alone has taught me to be more pro-active, I don’t wait for people to introduce themselves to me, I introduce myself first.

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When you travel alone you have two things you can rely on, yourself and complete strangers. I’ve become excellent at stopping strangers and asking for directions. You also begin to see people differently. People you don’t know are not as scary as you thought, they actually just look like people, sometimes they look like friends.

Out of all my adventures, my fondest memory is of three girls seeing the Eiffel Tower for the first time. Watching them you would think they had known each other for years,  jumping, laughing, and twirling (yes, twirling) in Paris in front of the Eiffel Tower, all the while snapping as many photos as possible. What you don’t see, is they just met in a hostel the night before. Most of the time I try not to look like a tourist. This day I couldn’t help it, it was magic. We had all grown up watching movies of Paris and seeing pictures of the Eiffel Tower and now we were finally there. This common thread connected us in that moment, in a way I’ll never forget.

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Though I still lean toward the introverted side, and get most of my energy from deep conversations with one or two friends, there are many people out there that I can be friends with. I am not going to close myself off to them just because at times it’s more comfortable to be alone. From traveling solo, I have learned that making friends and talking to new people is fun, and can be exhilarating. Meeting people gets easier and sometimes I don’t even have to think about it.

If you consider yourself an introvert, and the idea of traveling the world and meeting new people is scary, believe me when I say that it is. But sometimes the things we can grow from the most, are the things we are most afraid of. Don’t let fear keep you from growing and becoming who you were always meant to be. You might be surprised as much as I was, to find a bit of extrovert hidden behind the introvert.


This is a guest post by Ronda Wylie.

Ronda Ronda currently lives in Texas and dreams of moving to Guatemala. She spends a lot of her time blogging and taking a crazy amount of photos. She cannot imagine life without travel or hot chocolate. You can find her on Instagram @sayhelloblog or read about her travel adventures on sayhelloblog.com