Monday Postcard #120 – Walking Solo
I find it very therapeutic to spend some time on my own. I especially enjoy walking. Austrians are used to walking a lot – and usually we walk very fast. In cities like Vienna, many places are close-by and it is often faster to walk than to take a car (and look for parking) or public transport. I always get asked why Austrians are not overly obese, considering our food is quite heavy and we love those pastries. My answer is because we walk a lot. We do not even realise how much we walk every day. 10,000 steps per day is nothing when you live in Austria (last time I checked, I walked between 15,000-20,000 steps on average).
Over the years, walking has become something more than just getting from A to B. I started to appreciate it more when I spent a lot of time in countries with a hot climate where I do not walk as much. Sometimes, I just need to get out of the house and walk somewhere – without any specific destination in mind.
Even though I am a very social person, I sometimes just need my own space. At the moment, I have quite a few things going on – I am working on new campaigns and product partnerships, I am revamping a site and trying to take everything a few steps further. Hence, I constantly am thinking about work. I even started dreaming about it – I usually only do that when I get really obsessed. Obviously, I needed to do something about it and decided to go for a walk on my own and explore a new area.
When I was younger, I was terrified about being on my own. I hated to wait at cafés before my friends arrived (this was the time before everyone could hide their insecurities about being alone by swiping on their smartphones). I would have never thought I would travel on my own, have meals on my own or just sit around with a coffee and observe what is going on.
Because I moved so much and I was single for a long time, I learned to be on my own and appreciate it. I honestly do not care anymore if the people next to me think I am weird for having a coffee on my own (and maybe listen to their conversation 🙂 ). In Vienna, cafés offer “newspapers on sticks” – an old-school way to help read the big-sized newspapers without folding them. It is perfectly fine to spend quite a while at a café on your own. At the turn of the 19th to the 20th century, artists, philosophers and writers did they same and spent their days at the cafés. When I was a student, I studied for exams at cafés to get out of the house and just be surrounded by random people. Because of that, I am quite good at focussing in noisy places.
In a recent conversation with a friend she told me she wanted to go for a skiing trip. As none of her friends was free, she just went on her own and ended up having a great day. Similar to my friend, I hated it when I really wanted to do something and nobody was free or interested in it. I recently mentioned in my Monday Postcard about moving solo that I had to spend many weekends on my own after moving to a new place. Naturally, I just ended up doing things on my own – I visited museums, went to nice restaurants and also started to travel solo. Of course, I enjoy having company. But if nobody is free, I just do it on my own and use it to put things in perspective.
When I was younger, I never wanted being on my own. I also would have found it silly to go for a walk on my own. But over the years, I appreciated the silence and not knowing where I would end up at the end of my walk. If I explore a place on my own, I pay more attention to my surroundings. I am a big talker and I may get lost in the conversation and just wander along without seeing anything. When I am on my own, I explore small lanes, I pay attention to details and I just appreciate the moment more. It also helps to just take my mind off things – I focus on taking a nice picture or get to peek into a beautiful garden and wonder who may live there. It also helps me be more creative.
When I have a lot of things on my plate, I tend to lock myself up and work for hours on my own. It sounds really anti-social (and it really is). But to get certain tasks done, I need to power through and be undisturbed. However, when I then do not go outside, see friends or just do something else, I lose my creativity, become really unproductive and can get really grumpy. I learned to then close the laptop and just head out.
Yesterday, I had the feeling that I needed a change of scenery. I was sitting in front of my laptop but somehow I was not really productive. I decided to just stop whatever I was doing and headed out of the house. I had no destination in mind, I decided on it while I was walking and ended up in an area I had not been before. It really helped me to put things in perspective and develop some creative ideas and next steps. I think similar to travelling on my own, walking solo pushes me out of my comfort zone and somehow triggers my brain to reset and think differently. Whatever it does, it seems to work.
If you have the feeling that somehow nothing seems to be moving or working out, take a step back. Be on your own for a bit – even if it is just 15 minutes, that is enough and head out. Try to put things in perspective and enjoy the moment on your own – believe me, it will work wonders!