Everything in life is a gamble. Sometimes, knowing yourself and stubbornly sticking to your principles pays off. Sometimes, it doesn’t.
Some decisions feel particularly challenging. The gamble feels bigger, riskier, a matter of do or die… life or death. Should I or shouldn’t I? What are the consequences if I don’t or do? What if this opportunity is my last chance?
Much like a Rubick’s cube, there’s many ways to approach that decision. Ultimately, there’s only one answer– either you did or you didn’t.
Listening to your travel gut
Gut(s) is something I’ve learned to acquire and hone through traveling alone. Gut, instinct, survival, intuition, angels… whatever you want to call it, the differences are subtle enough to feel same. Maybe it’s a little voice inside your head or a feeling in your body, that lets you know when something just isn’t right …and when it is!
Traveler’s gut is a survival instinct and mechanism, which quickly surfaces, when we’re in unfamiliar territory, both culturally and environmentally. Our antenna are on high, peaked for danger as if we’re walking in the dark. Well, it’s because the dark is where we are, when entering a foreign country where we do not know societal and cultural tripwires, etiquette, bad neighborhoods, etc..
You might be asking- well, how can I get it fast or hone it on my own before taking the leap?
The beauty is that only the unknown and you taking the leap is where it comes out and hones itself. Being in the dark is where it speaks powerfully enough for you to listen.
Imagine walking down a dark tunnel. There’s little to no visibility in front or behind you. Your survival instinct automatically kicks into heightened alert and puts out highly sensitive feelers in order to grasp at any bits of information of walls or trip rocks, to avoid face-planting into something dangerous. A warm breeze or the sound of a bird in the distance alerts you that a decision is at hand. With human interactions, we’re all a little psychic and can sense the energy of others. Some people make us feel calm and others we feel uneasy around, as our bodies pick up their vibe before words are exchanged.
“Yes, walk towards it!! “, your gut says, sensing a path or person of safety.
If we’re all in the dark and don’t know what lies ahead in the future., then it’s our survival instinct which helps lead us to safety.
The guts of a female solo traveler
Traveling alone only strengthens my survival mechanism as I’m forced to rely on myself inwardly. Strength, resourcefulness, quick thinking… when you’re forced to listen to yourself inwardly, you get to know it. The more you use it, you trust it; moreso than your own logic. Gut is not thinking but feeling.
…. This does not feel like the street I took to get to my guesthouse.
….The tour price I was quoted feels a little too good to be true.
….This person does not feel like they are who they say they are.
….You just passed your bus stop- get off now!
My travel instinct hone itself on-the-road, when I dodge scams or when I observe people and put my antenna out to feel out the people I think I want to approach for help. Listening to it often steers me away from danger into safety or helps me find my way in uncertain territory.
I’d venture to say that developing ‘guts’ was a huge secret perk of traveling alone. Knowing what my ‘gut’ feels like, helps me in daily life situations; it’s been more accurate than a magic 8 ball.
From travel to gut decisions in daily life
If you’ve been keeping up on my Facebook statuses, then you’ll know that last week my job stress was about whether or not I’d take a flight attendant in-person job interview, when it required me to invest in two nights at a hotel (and under a wham-bam pressure cooker itinerary). The flight itinerary I was given felt quite cruel and beyond the call for any prospective job interviewee. But the knowledge that there are thousands of flight attendant hopefuls, who will gladly open up their pockets for that chance at an opportunity, did not help balance my perspective. Instead, it made me second guess myself.
I believe in myself as capable, able and qualified, but these interviews are highly scrutinizing to the point, it’s never certain whether you’ll get disqualified for dropping your smile for ten seconds or not answering a question in the right protocol. Flight attendant interviews are like psychology/personality tests. Even if I did pass the obstacle course of an in-person interview, it doesn’t guarantee a job. There’s weeks to months of unpaid training of which, at any point I could be disqualified for not meeting standards.
Attending an interview is an opportunity. Rushing and hurriedly throwing your clothes into a bag and spending big sums of money to attend it… is a gamble.
Although I declined the interview and purposely missed my flight, I also sensed there might be a possibility, they could reschedule me. The logic of my mind said those chances were slim to none, especially as their email to me explicitly said that rescheduling is not possible. My gut however, felt this opportunity was all wrong; that either there was a 90% chance rescheduling could happen or that another opportunity would present itself.
Even if I couldn’t see it and it defied logic, I had to trust it.
So I sent a followup email explaining my reasons for not boarding my flight and explained I’d be happy to reschedule a more financially-workable itinerary. I didn’t hear back from the company that week. Some friends wondered if I didn’t make a mistake. But every time I started to question whether it was a lost opportunity (whimper), my gut came back feeling even more resolute: Chris, you did right.
Eventually, I received an email from that airlines offering a rescheduled appointment.
A better way existed and my gut led me to it. Hooray for travel guts! I count my lucky stars for being a solo traveler.
When was a time you trusted your gut and everything turned out right?