I’ve alluded to the fact that I’ve felt quite lonely at times on this trip and I’ve also mentioned once or twice that I consider myself to be an introvert. In a post about the lessons that travel has taught me, I talk a little about the dilemma this presents to me on a regular basis and identified it as an area of challenge and therefore focus for myself.

I know full well, that there is no shortage of brilliant people in this world to meet and do fun stuff with but for whatever reason, I’ve been blocking those opportunities a lot lately. A classic example was a few weeks ago in Bali when after the first day of a yoga course I was attending, one of the guys said ‘who fancies grabbing some lunch?’ and without hesitation my mind started to run through a list of plausible reasons to excuse myself. Luckily, I caught myself just in time and instead said ‘I would love to!’ resulting in a lovely afternoon spent chatting to some really great people.

Afterwards I couldn’t help thinking about how my default response to social invitations had become no and It was then that I realised that the only person stopping me from meeting more people and therefore being less lonely was me and that is when I realised that something needed to change.

Despite that realisation I haven’t really had to challenge myself until now, because I’ve had a great couple of months on the social front. In Bali I stayed with family, I met wonderful people in Singapore and met up with a good friend for my first few weeks here in Chiang Mai, but on Monday night as I waved my friend goodbye, I knew that if I truly wanted to build a life for myself here, I was going to have to overcome my habit of saying no and start proactively saying yes to new opportunities.

So, I attacked the problem in the only way I know how to and I started signing myself up for things left, right and centre. I met up with a complete stranger on Tuesday night, who turned out to be an amazing lady who I already consider a friend, I’ve been to a workshop, I went to see a movie at a cool photography and film space where I’ll be helping out when I can, I spent the afternoon at Wildflower Home, a charity I’ll be working with over the next 5 months, tonight I’m off bowling and tomorrow night I’ve already managed to double-book myself.

I’m not telling you this to show off but simply to make the point that if you put your mind to it, being lonely is something that you have the power to change. I didn’t have to worry about this stuff back at home because I was always up to something and I had good friends around me to spend time with but there are lots of reasons that I’ve been resisting socializing on this trip. I struggle with small talk, in that I really don’t enjoy it, I’m fine with deep and meaningful conversations but those types of relationships usually take time. I don’t drink alcohol, which can get some funny reactions if you find yourself with the wrong crowd and I do have a tendency towards shyness, something I’ve only really acknowledged to myself on this trip.

Despite all of this I have managed to overcome my loneliness by simply saying yes more and the difference I’ve seen, in just a couple of days, has blown me away. It has also made me realise how common it is for us to block the very thing that our heart desires. So I wanted to throw the question out to you. Are there things in your life that you want more of but when you look closely find that you are in fact saying no to those very things? If so, then I urge you to look at when and why you say no and if it’s appropriate to try saying yes more, it has worked wonders for me.