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Extolling the gift of traveling alone, other nuggets of wisdom

Carolyn Hax

While I’m away, readers give the advice.

On traveling alone:

In a move that was completely out of character for me, I took a trip to Europe alone in spite of my incredibly overprotective family’s attempts to dissuade and interfere.

It is not hyperbole to say that the trip changed my life. While it was daunting, it forced me to realize that I could rely on myself, and that scary doesn’t always mean bad. I spent a week with a rental car and a GPS, and I came home with a new lease on life.

Don’t ask permission. Don’t phrase it in such a way that leaves worried family members room to believe their guilt will change your mind. Make a positive, straightforward, confident statement about your plans. Then, release your mind and heart.

The most beautiful thing about traveling alone is that you are beholden to no one else. You eat when you want. Sleep when you want. If you come to a place that touches you, you can sit there as long as you like without being prodded to move on by the waning interest of a companion.

Allow yourself this gift, and feel no guilt about accepting it. Two trips later, my family tends toward awe when I talk about the things I saw and did all by myself. It created in them a new kind of respect, but more than that, it created in me a new kind of self-respect.

— Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost

•••

On being left out:

I didn’t fit in growing up. I tried being overly nice, I tried honesty, I tried petty/vindictive. With the latter, I caused the few people who did like me to keep their distance.

As I grew up, I learned to see what I was doing that contributed to my being left out, and what was out of my control. After this, not only was I less bothered by it when it occurred, it simply happened less — in part because I liked myself and could laugh at myself more. Amazing how people instinctively like people comfortable in their own skin and able to let things go.

And it’s an upward spiral; The more people see it, the more people respond, the less I experience the negative effect of others.

“Taking the high road” is more than simply not responding in kind; it means deciding you’re better than that.

— R.

•••

On the proper level of butting in on a loved one’s wedding plans:

I am typing this as I should be getting ready for my bridal shower in a few hours. I am getting married in six weeks. I am dreading my bridal shower. I am dreading my wedding. I dread anyone asking about my wedding. I dread seeing my future mother-in-law. I have stopped answering my phone or checking emails because I’m sick of being told what I should be doing for my wedding.

I love my fiance more than anything and can’t wait to marry him. That’s all I want. Why can’t people just be happy with that? I feel like I have no control over any of it. Everyone has their opinions on what THEY want, but no one seems to care that we just wanted to elope rather than have a big party.

I wish people would just butt out and let us plan our day ourselves.

They don’t realize how stressful they make what should be one of the happiest times of our lives. If you want a wedding a certain way, have your own party or vow renewal or something, but please just let us be!

— Stressed Out Bride-to-Be

•••

On the urge to tell someone off:

I was parting company with a prickly teacher at a local riding school. This was as it should be, but she behaved unfairly toward me in the end, and I wanted to tell her off.

Pop told me not to, and gave me the best reason why.

“You meet people coming and going in this life. Be careful how you leave them.”

Once in a while I give myself a pat on the back for being smart enough to ask him what to do.

— S.

•••

On two parents with different parenting styles:

With my wisdom (ahem) gained over the years, mostly from watching my children be parents, I would say that children actually are better off with two different styles. From the more physical activities one parent does to the art activities the other parent does, to the “man up” attitude of one to the “I know that makes you sad; do you need a hug?” of the other parent, their kids are benefitting every day.

On discipline for really naughty behavior, however, kids are better off with a united approach.

— M.

Email Carolyn at [email protected], follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at washingtonpost.com.


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