I was already thinking about this during my trip to Dallas, but I felt compelled to play off of Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska’s poem, “In Praise of Feeling Bad About Yourself,” to dig into it tonight (again, with the usual Tuesday blog post caveat of having a mush brain). Maybe I’ll cover the poem itself in a separate post.
Being a human, this weird bag of bones, misfiring synapses, and having to navigate it through a world filled with other weird bags, is tough; well, sometimes that “bag” feels more like a body bag than any metaphor should allow.
Often, the hardest way that can manifest for me is in allowing myself the grace to be proud of myself. To take a moment athwart the crushing weight of being alive to say, “You done good, kid.” Instead, I’m usually wrapped in the imposter syndrome cloak, or utilizing self-deprecation as a defense mechanism and/or humor, or moving on to the next thing to be anxious and/or worried about.
On Thursday, I drove nearly 14 hours to Dallas, Texas by myself. I checked into a hotel I found online in Mesquite, a suburb just outside of Dallas. I navigated to the American Airlines Center the next night and found parking near the arena. I went to the event solo. I then navigated to AT&T stadium over the course of two nights, again, finding parking (this time I had found online prior), and again, going solo. I also went to a few different spots within Dallas and Mesquite, including the afore-blogged-about hiking adventure, and my first tasting of Whataburger.
In other words, I can now add Dallas to the list of major American cities I’ve personally navigated — Dallas, and another one I have, Philadelphia, are both in the top 10 most populous cities in America — alongside San Francisco (and Chinatown in particular!), Indianapolis, and Columbus, which in that order, are just outside the top 10 at 13, 14, and 15, respectively. I’ve also done Denver, which just squeezes into the top 20.
And of course, I drove the nearly 14 hours back home on Monday, which was a bit more challenging than even Thursday because I was operating on less sleep (perhaps six-ish hours Wednesday night versus less than three hours on Sunday night). I don’t recommend that! Unlike my late teens and early 20s where I stupidly took pride in how well I could operate on little sleep, I don’t see that as a badge of honor anymore, and it’s such a weird facet of our culture to “brag” about how little sleep we get. We need sleep!
I was not thinking of any of that within the framework of “feeling good about yourself” until I was talking to my twin. My twin is not a fan of driving on the highway, or navigating downtown cities, or traveling long distances, or probably going to events solo. She remarked something along the lines of, “You’re awesome doing that all by yourself, I envy ya.”
And it got me thinking. I hate being in crowds. It takes a lot to force myself to go to these live professional wrestling events and be sandwiched next to people, file out in droves with people, and just in general, not get anxious. Professional wrestling is my undying passion. I love it. And yet, it still does take that force. I get anxious with trips. Are the logistics going to work out? Did I do everything right? What if I messed up booking the hotel? What if I messed up booking the parking? What if I don’t have the right material to get into this area? I’ve also talked about how weird I get about food. For whatever reason, since as far as back as I can remember when I was a kid, I’ve always had a fear about when I’m going to eat next. So, venturing out on a trip, not for sure knowing where I when and will eat triggers that fear a little bit. Now that I have one kidney, I have to go the bathroom more, and that makes me anxious! What if I time it wrong and can’t get to a place with a bathroom soon enough while driving? What if I’m stuck in the boonies?! And so on. Heck, like my twin, I used to be terrified of driving on the highway. I didn’t do it until I was 21-years-old.
My point being: There are a lot of compelling, if irrational, reasons why I wouldn’t be someone you, or I, would peg as a solo traveler. I know people who don’t even like to go to the movie theater, or a local Red’s baseball game, solo, much less, I’m sure, travel hundreds of miles to do things solo.
Yet, I did it, and have done it on other occasions.
Maybe I should feel good about myself for having done so? That feeling is so foreign as to feel like I should alert my white blood cells to it. Even writing this blog post feels far too self-indulgent for my tastes.
But, hey, here I stand in praise of feeling good about yourself. I not only “made it” through four days of travel and adventure — even that language I use, “making it,” is how my brain thinks about Big Events™ in my life — but I had a damn good time. It was one of the best three-day weekends of my life with me, myself, and I.
We did good.