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October 21, 2011

Big Girl Panties

by Amy Hatvany

Woman on luggage

Most people I know love to travel on their own. I watch my friends' Facebook postings and Tweets about their worldwide adventures...the places they have gone and can't wait to visit. They don't bat an eye at filling their suitcase and racing to the airport to catch a last minute flight, and upon return, they can't wait to leave again.

I am not one of these people. I'm envious of them, but I'm not one of them. Woman on couchI am a homebody. I love my house, my yard, my husband, my kids, my dogs - my routine. Given the choice between flitting off on my own to some exotic locale and staying put in my jammies curled up on the couch with a good book, I'd be hard pressed to pack my bags. (Vacations with my husband or group of friends are different - sign me up!)

It's traveling alone that lends me pause. I wish this wasn't true about me, but it is. I don't like the idea of navigating long security lines and having to find my gate. What if I'm late? What if I end up at the wrong end of the terminal and miss my flight? What if I get lost in a weird airport and I can't get to my event? What if my driver is a nut job?

Seriously. I think about these things. I'm kind of a wimp. Most people who know me would never suspect this was true - I'm confident in most other areas of my life. Perhaps it has to do with my being completely and utterly directionally challenged. Or with my perfectionism and not wanting to look like an idiot by having to ask for help. Whatever the case, it irritates the crap out of me to feel this way; it's a neuroticism I'd love to let go.

And since the Universe tends to dish up exactly what I need at any given moment, it's not surprising that October is filled with solo trips for me to Portland, Chicago, and California for various book events. I'm set to face my fears head on. Yep, it's time to put my big girl panties on at the ripe old age of thirty-nine and travel by myself.Heart underwear  I actually feel a little silly writing this (I mean, really, how how am I?), but if I'm not honest about how I'm feeling, how can I work through it? I've been afraid of much more daunting things in the last year - identifying myself as a recovering alcoholic was kind of a big one. I was terrified of going public with this truth, but I was also committed to the idea of the message of my novel being more important than my tender ego. Four years ago, I was afraid of getting married again after a painful divorce, but I loved my new partner enough to take that step.

Bride and groomI know from experience that I have to walk through my fear in order to release it - feel the fear and do it anyway. But knowing this doesn't erase the fear as I take that first step. Once I tackle these trips, I'll be better and stronger for it. I'll look back, chuckle at myself, and wonder what in the world I was afraid of in the first place.

All right, now that I've spilled my embarrassing phobia on the page, how about you? What fears have you overcome and lived to tell the tale? Please tell me I'm not alone.



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I'm with you on the traveling, Amy! Did quite a bit when I was younger (Continental U.S.), and then only occasionally. Summer of 2010, it was business, and I remembered *real* quick why I gave that up. Like you, I know people who can drop everything and race to the airport at a moment's whim, but that's them and I am me...:)

And congratulations on your recovery! It's not easy, but it can be done... honest...:)

I am also a nervous traveler, but it is better than staying home. I am far more worried about missing my flight than anything bad happening during it, so I like to get to the airport really early, which annoys some people.

I'm embracing train travel now, although you have to watch out for those quiet cars. They're not kidding around about staying quiet.

I wish you well with your recovery. You have courage.

Congratulations, Amy, and kudos for your courage in admitting fear and facing it! I love solo travel as long as it doesn't involve foreign languages, so I can't help much with that. On the other hand, I've been facing issues of my own and finally getting help for old problems, so I do know whereof you speak. I finally built up the courage to admit to being sexually assaulted back in my 20's and to seek help to heal from that. It's one of the most liberating things I've ever done.

I hope your upcoming travels are wonderful - Portland and California are among my favorite places to hang out. I don't know much about Chicago, but have wanted to visit for a long time.

Here's to you!

Hi Amy,

I love taking off on my own. But I am terrified of group interaction. I make non-friends easily. I have temporal lobe epilepsy (Van Gogh's disease) with a lot of seizures that affect the way I interact with others, and although I have developed many strategies for the workplace and groups, I can never relax. Eventually, after enough time goes by, I have an abundance of problems with any of these kinds of situations and usually have to move on. However . . . over the years . . . I've learned which jobs and schools would work for me. It turns out that some of the best of these are the most adapting.

One on one, I am better, but most people don't weather the bad times with me very well at all. Fortunately I became quadriplegic (just trying to lighten it up), and that's much more acceptable in the weirdness-factor category. It has it's own attendant biases, but I manage okay.

Give me travel. I will go. I once went shopping for woolens in Iceland, because the wool there is hugely fantastic - the goods different - really good. But mostly I went for the fun of it. I've gone to Denmark for the best French press coffee ever and helped the local police solve a minor crime while in Odense. Coincidence . Was out early. Saw the men they were looking for. I rode around with them and was able to help them figure out who they were. The cops took me for coffee. Never happens here. My other favorite thing is I like to take courses at Oxford and have done so periodically over the years. Only now I don't think I could negotiate the streets there.

I have the same problem with my family that I have with everyone else in the world, so I just do the best I can, and when I mess up I explain and hope they understand. Most do not, but those who do are amazing friends and family. [Hi Auntie-Mom. Hi Step. Hi Stephanie. Hi Scout.]

Amy, as the daughter and sister of an alcoholic, I know a little bit of the struggle you've gone through, and will continue to go through. When I say that your family is extremely grateful for your honesty and your efforts, know I am absolutely confident they are. And after that, if you want to be a little bit wimpy about traveling along, well, hey.

In my twenties a friend and mentor talked me into leaving retail for a career selling insurance. I was tremendously shy back then, but the need to eat forced me to break out of that shell and become more assertive. It was a huge development for me.

The big joke around here, which was kind of a secret, is that I've been married to a wildlife photographer for nearly 30 years, and was always pretty much terrified of animals. Almost all animals. So when I started taking horseback riding lessons at age 55, it was a bigger deal for me than almost anyone could have guessed. Talk about putting on big girl panties! Now my friend and I are very close to the point where we can learn to jump, which is another big step.

Kerry, that took great courage, my dear.

Oh, Amy, you give me courage.

I love to travel solo. What scares me is the vacations I take with the kids, and all the luggage, planning, logistics that go along with it. What if they're bored? Sick? Where would we find a doctor? What if we drive each other mad on the plane/ship/hotel room? But they always turn out well.

If I can make it another year, I'll have been sober half my life. I shudder to think about the life I'd have led, had I not found my way to Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob. I'm glad to know there are others out there on the same road to happy destiny, so thanks for sharing.

The scariest thing for me is to contemplate falling in love again. But my marriage ended 4+ years ago, and I suspect it's nearly time.

Godspeed on your travels, Amy. You've already been on at least one bitch of a journey, so just be aware of triggers on these little trips!

Truth? I am petrified of the dentist. No need to go into why - many of us had terrible ones as kids. Plus - and no laughing from those who know me - it turns out I have a very little mouth for a grown-up person. Yes, I make up for it in volume, so it's hard to tell. Which makes it hard for everyone, at least until they get out the kid-sized instruments.

I wish I could say I have overcome my fear but the truth is that the only thing that really gets me there is pain. I fear tooth pain more than the dentist - and by the way - both our dentist and surgeons are wonderful guys. So is Mr. Xanax.

I am so proud of our TLC Community today for being brave!

Oh, Amy. I too am utterly and completely directionally challenged. No coping strategy seems to help. If I want to turn left, and given my record guess that is the wrong choice, I will turn right and be wrong again. When in a strange place it is more than possible to get lost walking around the block. Four right turns, how could that go wrong? But it can.

Good luck on your solo trips, Amy--and remember, you're not really alone, it's all for your book! (I also prefer to stay put--somebody has to keep the home fires burning--and always wake up every hour on the hour, the night before a trip to make sure my alarm is working:(

Ladies, you are all so wonderful! And so courageous. You inspire me, and hearing your stories is giving ME courage exactly when I need it. Many, many thanks for your openness - letting me know I'm NOT alone. :)

I suppose we all have fears, so it's not a matter of having them, it's whether we allow them to dictate our behavior. I'm going to pack my bags, and get on that plane this weekend! I'm ridiculously excited for the events themselves, so I refuse to let any fear I have hold me back from experiencing every moment to the fullest!

Love, love love to you all!

Good luck with your voyages, healthwise and earthwise.

I was thinking I haven't overcome any fears, but I did manage to have real-live PIV sex with one person in my life, so I got over that one. Harley is a couple of years ahead of me, I think, on the relationship thing. After two years, I'm nowhere near being ready.

I love your blog today, Amy.
My fears have included such mundane things as fear of numbers to handling guns on the shooting range but I have reached the septuagenarian decade in one piece so far it has been worth the challenges.
Every job I had when I went back to work included bookkeeping etc. so I held on for dear life and ran the numbers with trepidation.
Flying alone has not happened yet but my then thirteen year old daughter grabbed our boarding passes in Chicago and guided us through the maze. She is extremely confident and capable like her dad.
I am thinking any venture that I have tried I did not over think it. At times it was a bad thing..like spilling my guts on the Internet but then I guess life is short so why not share.
You are delightful, Amy. I am so looking forward to reading your novels.

I'm not afraid to travel alone, and I have met many wonderful people when doing so, but I have come to love my home space so much that it takes something very enticing to pull me away . . . and there is the unavoidable fact that travel these days has become more stressful and inconvenient . . .
OTOH, when we do organize a TLC gathering, I'll be there!

I applaud all of you who have opened up to state your fears, vulnerabilities, and inner journeys here on the comments -- Wow! Amy, I hate to go anywhere. I'm happy staying at home. But I'm in the Bay Area, if you are coming to this part of California, and I will be happy to do anything to make your life easier while here.

LMAO @Josh "real live PIV sex"!! Definitely takes time for the relationship thing - 4 years after the divorce for me, too.

Holly - I'll be in Oakland at the NCIBA tradeshow, but only for a signing and cocktail party. Hmm...cocktail party. Ironic for the recovering alcoholic, no? ;) I'll likely be returning to NoCal and SoCal for my next book release in February, so YES on meeting up!

Kathy Sweeney, are we long lost relatives? I have always said that, even though my mouth seems really big and flaps all of the time, it is actually quite small. I really hate the dentist, too. He has done wonders in helping me get through it, as I have had more than my fair share of root canals and crowns.

I have a big, no HUGE, fear of water. I don't even get into a pool. I almost drowned in the Mississippi River at the age of 18 and I just don't do water. Friends and Dear Hubby convinced me to go on a house boat weekend at the Lake of the Ozarks. Then they tried to tease me into going down the slide and into the lake. Dear Hubby finaly got me into the water and stayed with me until I satisfied the others. That has been 30 years ago and I haven't gone into a body of water above my knees since. I have no trouble admitting it, lol.

I have become such a homebody. I don't mind traveling, but only for vacations or other pleasure trips. I would never be happy in a job that required constant travel (a few times a year is fine).

I don't have any dramatic fears I've had to conquer. The hardest thing for me to do was to learn that I don't have to please everybody all the time. Or, expect them to be concentrating on pleasing me. After growing up the youngest in a big family, that took me a long time to learn.

How wonderful and courageous you all are. I had this huge fear of flying, but I had to fly to see my daughter, and i was sad that I was so frightened. It was a beautiful flight down the coast to Long Beach, and I realized that astronauts fly much higher. I know it sounds silly, but I cured myself with that silly thought.

I never travel alone if I can avoid it, because when I have done it in the past, I've either had very bad things happen or I have gotten myself in trouble. Usually the latter and sometimes involving the need to leave a place in the middle of the night while only partially dressed.

I'm usually ok for a short day trip (usually, but not always), but anything longer that about 12 hours alone is tempting fate. I once had a friend tell me that if I ever spent a year traveling alone, it would bring about the Apocalypse. Some days, I think that might be a fun hypothesis to test.

As for fears and phobias, I have a couple of real phobias, but I never discuss them because that can lead to giving your enemies an advantage over you. My fears are mostly of fairly unlikely things, but that has not stopped them from popping up from time to time, like the one about angry women with guns or knives.

ONce I took the TRAIN from Boston to Chicago, 23 hours, because I was too terrified to fly.

That's when I began to realize that when fear is taking over--that's so--ridiculous. And you are so right, facing it is the deal.

Sue Grafton says: eat the death cookie. What;s the worst that could happen? Usually, it's not that terrible. And you'll be fine.

love love love--you're on BOOK TOUR! This is your dreams coming true..

SO lovely to see you..and bon voyage.

Looking at this page and thinking about fears, I realized a big one. Putting my personal life out for the world. It's scary. There are still some skeletons that stay in their closet. I like it that way.

I think a big part of the lack of fear came from my mother. By the time she had graduated college, she had traveled expensively, (in those days, Ohio to Israel was New York, Dover, Thule, Reykjavik, Shannon, Rome, Tel Aviv) met a host of family ghosts (my grandfather ran away from home and joined the Army to avoid his abusive step father, and let's just say that mom's side of the family knew about abortion long before Roe or Wade were born.) and had her brother be given the then common choice, Army or prison (Unc also introduced the family to a far off land, since no one knew where Saigon was when he got there.)

By the time I graduated college I had traveled solo by train across the county and by air a quarter of the way around the world. I had also flown airplane, jumped off a cliff and sadly attended the funerals of friends who never had the chance to grow gray like I am now.

I am looking now at the line "death cookie". I have been up close and personal with armed robbery, had a gun to my face. It does clear the mind.

Good luck on your travels. Maybe there is another book in the adventure.

Amy: when afraid of something, I repeat to myself those words I once heard : fear makes your ennemies more frightening than they really are.
It helped me many times in the last years but (Harley and Josh) I've not fallen in love in more than ten years now...

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