One thing you probably don’t know about me yet is that when I’m not flying in airplanes, I’m usually flying in the air as an aerial silks acrobat. That’s right, I am a professional aerialist, and regularly teach group and private classes, train, and – when I’m lucky – perform in my sport, which I desperately love. Over the years as a frequent solo traveler and as a certified aerialist, it has become obvious to me why both ignite a fire so deep in my soul that I can’t live without either one of them. Aerial silks and solo travel have quite a few things in common that hit hard on my core values and I would love to share them below.
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1. Aerial Silks and Solo Travel Both Challenge You.
If you are an aerialist, then you already know how physically demanding and challenging this sport is. In all of my years of teaching aerial, I’ve never seen one person (including myself) walk in on Day 1 and already possess the grace, strength, body awareness, flexibility, and agility that aerial silks demands. It just doesn’t happen.
Even if you naturally possess or already have earned one or two of these skills from another activity (ballet, rock-climbing, yoga), things translate very differently when in the air. It requires a whole new spatial awareness and control when maneuvering you’re body.
There is also a unique mental component I see in my regular students that I very much respect – you need to have such a strong commitment and desire to learn these skills that you keep coming back for more, despite the hardships involved; bruises and “failures” and maybe even falling.
As with aerial silks, solo travel demands you to be someone who will not shrink from challenges, but rather, who willfully faces them head-on, alone. You need to keep moving forward no matter what goes wrong – and things will absolutely go wrong – during your trips. No missed train or stolen luggage or creepy encounter can stop you from your goal. You have to make (mostly)smart decisions and weigh the pros and cons alone.
Particularly as a solo female, you will have to be continually aware of your surroundings. And, you can’t let a few struggles ruin your whole trip. They may get you down for a moment, but you have to be willing to wake up fresh the next day and forge onward.
2. You Will Build Confidence & Strength.
You know that feeling you get when you accomplish something BIG?
Anytime that you throw your whole self into a project or activity that requires a great deal of time, focus, or energy, once you reach the other side you probably feel elated and accomplished; confident and strong.
Aerial Silks and Solo Travel both do that.
For aerialists, there are about a thousand mini-goals to hit along the way, from various climbs to perfect straddles to nailing that terrifying drop. And one tip that I am constantly giving my students, which I wholeheartedly mean every time I say it, is this: “Every time you “fail”, it’s really not a failure. Because every time you push your body, even if you don’t get it on the first try, you are building the muscles to get you there.” (If any of them are reading this, I can guarantee they’ve heard this in my class before!)
And then, once they finally accomplish whatever that difficult skill is, they are elated. And frankly I am elated for them. I might be guiding them on their journey, but they are putting in the hard work. When they accomplish something that seemed impossible weeks or months or even years before, their confidence and strength is palpable. And I’m right there with them, cheering them on.
With solo travel, you will undoubtedly be faced with some situations that will test you. You will have to face your fears, whatever those may be.
Are you afraid to spend that much time with yourself? Are you afraid you can’t navigate a foreign country alone? Or, are you afraid of potential dangers you may run into? Problems will undoubtedly happen, period. They just will. But pushing on and persevering in spite of the roadblocks you run into is the biggest confidence boost you can imagine.
Whether you’re on a multi-day trek on Kilimanjaro or learning to navigate the subway system in a foreign language, these are all wins. And once you are on the other side of any of these challenges, your confidence and strength will be palpable, too.
3. Aerial Silks and Solo Travel Will Teach You To Rely on Yourself.
When you are high in the air on silks, your safety is in your own hands. Even if you have a coach or an instructor guiding you from the floor, and hopefully a crash mat below, your life is in your own hands. And I am not exaggerating. This is, to be blunt, a sport that you can be seriously injured or even die doing.
You need to be self-aware enough to know when to quit and when to push on, regardless of what a friend or even an instructor is telling you. Only you can judge if your grip has any strength left that day, or if your muscles are too fatigued to push on.
That might sound frightening when I put it so bluntly. But I actually see it as somewhat comforting. You are the boss of your own body. Only you can determine what is right for you and your muscles, and any instructor who tries to push you farther than you feel safe is frankly not worth their salt.
You must rely on your own judgement over any outside influences. And, you really learn to tune into your body and your mind and evaluate whether or not it is safe to push on.
Similarly, in solo travel, you learn pretty quickly what is right for you and what isn’t. When you’re solo, you don’t need to compromise with anyone else on what the itinerary includes; you get to do exactly what you want each and every day of your trip.
Are you really enjoying the little beach town you’d planned to stay only one night in? Stay longer! Or, are you really not feeling the vibe of the city center and don’t feel like it’s a match for you? Then move on.
There is nobody else that you have to please. Check in with your mind and body and determine what you want out of this trip.
Sidenote – and a very important solo-female PSA if I do say so myself.
I am thankfully very comfortable using the word “no”. I believe this is partially due to the confidence and self-assurance gained while solo-travelling for all these years. But I know that many females feel pressure to be a “yes”-woman or a people-pleaser, often due to societal expectations.
I’m here to tell you that you do not have to do this. In fact, I advise you not to. I can’t say what others may think about you for saying no, but I can tell you that you will be relieved to only agree to the things you want or need to do, and not what anyone else tries to push you to do.
Furthermore, always trust your gut if something truly doesn’t seem right. Never put someone else’s feelings above your own safety, aerial silks and solo travel alike.
4. You Will Continually Grow.
One of my most favorite aspects of aerial silks is that there is no ceiling to how good you can get. There is not one final trick to learn and then – BAM! – you are suddenly an expert. Actually, there is no limit. There’s always a push and a desire to get to that next level of strength or flexibility, and that never ever stops.
What this has meant for me is that I am constantly challenged, never bored, and always excited.
Sure, I have my bad days. The days where nothing seems to be working right or my timing is off. But overall, I love this aspect of being an aerialist. It’s such a positive challenge, because it allows continual growth even after years of practice.
Solo traveling is a similar experience. I’ve solo traveled on six of seven continents so far (Antarctica is on my list!), and I absolutely still learn new things about myself when confronted with unforeseen situations.
Just because you’ve solo traveled for one year or ten years doesn’t mean the learning stops. As human beings, we are constantly changing year to year, so it’s not that hard to believe that there are still a number of things to learn about yourself.
On top of that, different cultures, different terrains, and different countries will throw different things your way, and every reaction and interaction is a chance for continued growth.
My passion for both aerial silks and solo travel have led me on journeys of self-discovery and fulfillment that I’m so thankful to have found. If you enjoy a challenge, or want to build self-confidence and strength, maybe you would enjoy these adventures, too! Feel free to ask me about either topic in the comments below.
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Let me know in the comments below if you have tried aerial silks or solo travel, and what you thought!