So, as if quitting my job with no concrete plan wasn’t enough, this trip so far has definitely been a run of doing everything for the first time, and taking one step at a time out of my comfort zone. I had gotten so stuck in thinking that I wouldn’t like something before I tried it, that it not only limited the things that I was doing, but affected the way that I thought of (and stereotyped) people who did go for it. I don’t know why I did so, maybe because it scared me a little to try new things I wasn’t comfortable with, or maybe it’s because I’m a judgemental B-word that needs to chill the hell out.
Being in whole new surroundings (where I’m guaranteed not to run into my old primary school teacher), now seems a better time than any to throw up my arms and think “Fuck it – I’m going to try everything I’ve never tried before!” – except yoghurt, because that stuff’s come straight from Hell – and run at it head-on with an open mind. So that’s exactly what I did. Not many of those things so far have been well-behaved, but here’s what they taught me…
The first time I went to a female strip club. My previous experience with naked people, who weren’t also staring back at my naked arse, was more traumatic than a turn-on. We don’t need to go into the specifics, let’s just say it was a hen party which I left never wanting to see a penis ever again, and that ain’t the way for any girl to live.
This time, I found myself in Budapest with two great friends, and after a fair few gins on a ruin-bar crawl, ended up in a strip club. At first, I’ll admit, I was completely weirded out. It was stag night central, full of guys who were dead behind the eyes and counting on the draped walls to hold them up, and the girls waited in line with serious RBF next to the stage for their turn. But I think hanging out with a photographer helped to change my perspective on the whole thing – and I thought of it as a people-watching experience, rather than creeping on some underwear-clad gals. Because where else in the world can you go to a bar solely to stare at someone, and that person be completely cool with that?
And even though I found myself beginning to compare my body to theirs, it actually served as a great reminder that there are so many different body shapes out there, and each one is incredibly sexy. If anything, it worked wonders for my own self-esteem to see that there were women out there who could work it with they what got, a far cry from the girls starving themselves for a thigh gap frequenting my Instagram feed. And if all else fails, I know there’s a job out there where my sole qualification can be my huge backside.
The first time I ate a space cake (and possibly failed to get high). I’ve always had a problem with hanging out with people who were smoking and getting high; partly because the majority of the time they turned into a complete ass-hat, but mainly because I lack the ability to inhale anything that I don’t need to live. Firmly placed in the ‘Don’t Do Drugs’ camp, I just couldn’t get my head around why they couldn’t have a good time without being blurry eyed and lethargic.
But, when in Amsterdam, what else is there to do but give it a go, right? So, when a group of friends turned up to celebrate my dreaded mid-twenties birthday, we stocked up on space cakes and mushrooms (sorry Mum) and chowed down before heading off to a gig. I don’t know what I was expecting, but there was no out-of-body experience or feeling that I’d conquered world peace (that one was all Brian’s), just a thirty minute giggle fit, an engaging speech on the Teletubbies, and a two-day hangover. Which all could have been down to the beer.
But what did it teach me? Again, to chill the eff out, but also that sometimes you just have to try something, before getting on your high horse and getting all judgy about it without having any idea what it does. In no way am I now the advocate for drugs, because heroin ain’t pretty kids, but I will be approaching them with the attitude that if someone’s into that, then I’m a judgement-free zone. After all, being addicted to gin isn’t really that much difference in the long-run.
The first time I ate snails. Alright, this one’s tame in comparison and not much of a life-changing anecdote – but if you’ve met me and my fussy-eating habits, you’ll know that I initially was NOT into this. But sitting in a French restaurant in Brussels, curiosity got the better of me. When they arrived in front of me, it really was difficult not to picture the slimy suckers sliding all over the pavement, but once I’d summoned up the courage they weren’t half as bad as I thought they’d be. They weren’t my favourite dish, having been drowned in garlic, but the texture was interesting…
I guess though it did help me to just keep an open mind and be willing to try things, even if it’s not my cup of tea, and even if after trying those things I never want to do them again. After everything, it’s another story to tell and another experience ticked off the list, and there’s no reason not to try.
If you’ve made it through this, I applaud you! I also encourage you to quit saying that you don’t like something you’ve never tried – step out of your comfort zone, get rid of whatever preconceived notions you have about the world, and just give it a go. What’s the worst that can happen?
(If the answer to that last question is ‘die’, then I should probably advise you to steer clear of whatever you were planning. I’m all for trying new things, but being responsible for a death is not on my list…)