Walking with Danger
One of the most mind-wracking, beautifully orchestrated, Lifetime movies "Mother, May I Sleep with Danger" is a classic, must -see. Actress Tori Spelling is being stalked by a man, eventually getting involved with him, then he becomes more obsessed and here's the shocker: he tries to kill her when she won't return his love. I brought up this awful TV drama because there are so many movies, TV shows and even news about young girls and women being stalked, attacked, and so forth which puts fear in the eyes of females and parents. "Taken", anyone?
Don't get me wrong, there are some messed up people out there and we should exercise appropriate caution with whatever we do. However in lieu of my recent excursions abroad I could tell a very distinct difference between the caution exercised in America verses Europe. Even relaying some of my stories to my parents or other adults you could see concern on their faces about putting myself in a certain position or talking to strangers.
In Ireland I don't think even once I felt scared or threatened by a person or situation. Small children would walk home from school alone or go to the convenient store. Men would holler at girls from cars constantly, though that's a different topic. Talking to strangers was how I made friends and even on the street or in Pubs that's how I learned most of the culture I did. Did I mention there are no guns in Ireland? Some would say this is outrageous and dangerous but it seems to be keeping the peace pretty well so far.
In America there sounds like there's a new shooting in the news every week. Violence is widespread and we have a great deal of issues with crazy people and gun control. Of course the news sensationalizes the drama and we mostly only see the bad stuff that's happening around us. I will go places alone all the time, drive to different states or cities and its no problem. My parents don't like me walking around my neighborhood past dark and you sure wont see little kids walking around the streets anywhere alone. Going to an all-girls College we have a lot of videos required and rape/violence awareness which is great. I think all girls should know self-defense. I also think we instill some good fear but also some irrational fears in peoples mind.
That asks the question how much fear is good fear?
Travelling alone has many perks as in you can go wherever you please, whenever you please. No compromising, no group collaborations, no arguing, just you, yourself and your thoughts. I had a few guy friends that took multiple trips alone around Europe which I think is awesome and almost necessary as an adult. I had a few girlfriends as well take trips alone. I asked myself if I could do something like that or would it be too dangerous? I'm sure most people have seen "Taken" and girls have had fear pushed far into their cerebellum so hopefully nothing like that would happen. But is it good to live in this fear?
It's smart to live with caution and common sense, however we especially as females, need to start living with confidence and acceptance. Acceptance of how the world is and how it works and not letting that stop us from becoming who we are and accomplishing what we want to do.
I regrettably did not take a trip alone really anywhere during my semester until the very last week. I rode the train to Howth, a small town outside of Dublin, to do some hiking and soul searching.The trip was just what I needed for empowerment and independence, sorting through my compiling thoughts about my semester and who I was as a person.
It was funny because after I built the courage to take this day trip, which may seem like nothing to most people, just taking that first step and crossing the barrier has helped me make harder steps as an individual and as a woman. For someone who has somewhat of social anxiety, it helped free me emotionally and physically in a sense.
So as I was hiking along, feeling the wind on my face and smelling the ocean and the fish, I even chatted with some strangers along the way. A few were from around Europe but one older lady was from Tennessee and she was very excited to talk to another American. Once she noticed I was alone she was very anxious and worried for me, saying I was a "beautiful, young girl" and it would be safer to travel with a buddy. Which is common sense and true but this disheartened me a little bit. It was very sweet she was looking out for me, however Ireland is one of THE safest countries in the world, let alone this small coastal town. If I were to be safe anywhere in the world it would have been there, and I had just built up the courage to do so. Later I ended up chatting with a young female grad student about our semesters abroad, which I wouldn't have probably stopped if I was with another person, but I was on my own schedule.
Of course when I was traveling to Spain and Italy I traveled with at least one other person but is this absolutely necessary? I still contemplate it today. A young man can travel alone but I must have this fear of getting kidnapped or assaulted? Is there a certain age or height or weight for me to be able to be "okay" travelling be myself?
After concluding my trip I was inspired to travel to other countries in Europe, riding solo. I have this adventurous goal of backpacking around South America after I graduate and as much fun as it would be to do in a group of friends, I think it is necessary for me to manage alone.
Many women may not have fears travelling alone and that's awesome. I think as long as we take the necessary precautions then that's all we can do. Prepare for the worst, expect the best.
Here's a link for a list of safe countries, especially for women, to travel to alone!