So a couple days ago, I went on a lovely day trip from London to Brighton. I wanted to get out of the city, and I’ve been missing the sea so it was just the perfect place to venture off to.
After a nauseating ride over, the bus load of people and I were dropped off at a station in Brighton. Now, I always thought I’d be good about going to a place without a map, without any contacts, by myself.
And well…at the beginning I was kinda awful. I got off the bus, looked at the nearest bus map and saw which way pointed to the sea and just started walking. I have this horrible quirk when I’m nervous, of quickly looking at a map and just following the next thing I see without properly figuring out what’s what.
So as I started walking towards the “sea,” I kept getting more and more nervous. “What if I get stranded here and miss my bus over?” “What is there even to do here?” “This doesn’t look like the pictures I saw online.” “Why is my backpack so heavy!!!”
I became hyper aware of who was around me and what they thought I was doing. Which was weird because I’m sure at this point in my morning, I only saw like 5 people on the streets.
“These runners were the barrier between me and the sea and I was not going to give up my destination. There was nothing to do but cross through them.”
Once I saw a cute store, I decided to go in. Half to shop and half to calm my nerves. After some time “browsing,” I asked the lady at the register which way it was to the sea and she pointed me in my original direction. (Ha! Maybe I can read a map under pressure!)
Walking down the small streets and brightly painted buildings, I still felt a bit tense. I don’t know – this feeling of difference and thinking it’s obvious I’m a stranger were on the backburners of my mind.
Mid-internal pep-talks, I turned the corner of a street and just saw people running and racing. Huge number stickers on their bright water-resistant tops made me realize, OMG this is a marathon!
I had never before actually seen a marathon happen. Back home, I tried to avoid them because they only created more traffic. This time, these runners were the barrier between me and the sea and I was not going to give up my destination. There was nothing to do but cross through them.
As I waited for a time when I could run between the runners, the way a chicken might to get to the other side of the road, I could not help but focus on all of the people on the sidelines yelling and chanting “Keep going!” “You’re almost there mate,” “Go Uncle Dave!!” Seeing kids, friends, wives, husbands support their fathers, friends, loved ones, and people they’ve never met before was the most beautiful thing to stumble upon on a seemingly normal Sunday morning.
I mean there was so much support from so many people, I almost couldn’t help but feel a bit lonely. Here I was the only person alone on Brighton beach. (And no, I’m not being dramatic. I scanned the area. I was the only one for miles.) The rest were couples and families and groups of people with smiles on their faces simply giving to one another. It was so…bittersweet.
And once that all sank in, I wanted to back to London. Badly. I wanted to go back in my room and stay there, where it was warm and I didn’t feel lonely. Where I felt “safe.” I immediately wanted people that I’ve broken up – friends, lovers, boyfriends – there with me to talk to and to take pictures with. I wanted them to take away the feeling away for me and make me feel better.
But then, out of nowhere I thought, “Mona, at least you’re feeling. When you were with some of those people, yea they took away your fears but they also took away your happiness. You can’t take away feelings of fear without losing feelings from love. You’re alive and you’re young. Experience this loneliness. You’ll be okay…And also, you already bought your return ticket for London, so you’re not going to waste money to go back home so you’re gunna stay”
And after that, the feelings of loneliness, stress and fear slowly subsided. I made my way to the beach, walked along the pier. Eventually I came across a tea room I’d been looking for, where I had my first afternoon tea. I went shopping and bought a bunch of clothes on sale (I mean I got a £46 Urban Outfitter skirt for £9! Talk about steal!)
And before I knew it, the day that started off pretty shakily turned to something wonderful. To think that I could have gone back to London, and sat in my room, tea-less and new skirt-less.
I learned that day, when it doubt push past the fear; it won’t last.
Has something like this ever happened to you?