Friday 22 November 2019

You don't want to be hiding in your hotel room. But mingling requires motivation, dedication and not a little alcohol

Declan Cashin

Being the real 'live in the now' kind of guy that I am, naturally what's preoccupying my mind mere days before I go on holiday are the thoughts of what sneaky jaunt I can organise next.

That's the problem with planning any holiday, isn't it? It's like a gateway drug -- or, if you will, a getaway drug -- to further foreign experimentation, the pursuit of which becomes such an all-encompassing addiction that before you know it you're curled up in the foetal position on the floor, sweating and shaking, doing anything to arrange that next sweet fix.

Don't look at me like that. I'm just a casual holidaymaker. I can stop any time I want, I swear.

There are six of us heading on this holiday next week -- three lads and three lassies (it's all very Friends. We'll be frolicking in a fountain and lounging on a random sofa in a park in no time).

But any excursion I have in mind next -- ideally over That Festive Period in December That Shan't Be Named But It's Ever So Close, And, My, Where Has The Year Gone? -- will likely involve me going solo.

The thought of it makes me nervous. Honestly, if this group holiday hadn't come up, I probably wouldn't have taken any break this year. (First world problem ahoy).

I'm 31 years of age. Surely, this shouldn't be a bother to me by now?

After all, it's not like I haven't travelled alone before. When I was 21, I went to the US, staying here and there with cousins, but for the most part entertaining myself.

Four years ago, I was in Washington DC for election day, a week-long trip of pure, unadulterated nerdiness that I also did on my ownsome.

I preferred it that way, and had a great time. On the night of the vote, I was in a bar on Capitol Hill, and got talking to people similarly caught up in the count excitement. I was never really lonely.

Since then, I've travelled for work by myself to Europe and the US, but only for a few days at a time. Over the same period, I've seen friends set off for Asia, South American and Australia by themselves for upwards of a year.

I doffed my cap to them, all the while admitting, only to myself, that I didn't have the balls to do likewise.

I always had some excuse to put off big holidays or travelling solo, but the actual reason was simple fear.

I know from experience that you always meet more people if you're travelling by yourself, largely because you have to make more of an effort.

That's something I feel out of practice with, though. It gets harder the older you get to make friends, or, at least, to be as open to people and experiences in that 'first day of school' way.

It's the evening time that I'd be most concerned about. You don't want to be just hiding out in your hotel room. You'll want to go out, mingle, score, whatever. That requires motivation, dedication, and not a little alcohol.

The thing is, when I first moved to Dublin almost a decade ago, I knew nobody. At a certain point, I decided that if I wanted to meet new people and make friends, I'd have to just head out by myself.

For quite a while, I was 'that guy', the one at the bar or in the club who was by himself, clutching his drink, eyes darting everywhere, terrified of approaching people, but more terrified of not. And you know what? It worked. Spectacularly. I'm very proud of that.

So considering I used to have more nerve than I suspect I do now, maybe I shouldn't be concentrating on 'the now'. Maybe the way forward is to live in the 'then'?

Day & Night

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