Caitlin Agnew, contributing beauty editor at The Globe and Mail
I’ve always had this outlook that things would get better with age. My confidence would grow, relationships become less dramatic and, overall, life would just feel certain. Now that I’ve passed the 30 mark, I’m no longer sure that’s necessarily the case. I still have a laundry list of silly fears (singing in public, having my photo taken), unrealistic romantic expectations and reservations about my future that make me feel about as clueless as my miniature poodle.
With that said, progress has been made! I no longer balk at speaking up and asking questions as I did in high school, and have come to relish doing things on my own, especially travelling. My first solo tour was at age 16, when I left my cozy family home in Northern Ontario to go on exchange to Berlin. This was in the year 2000, when there were still Deutschmarks and you had to actually log on to the Internet. I learned a lot of useful life skills during those three months, like how to navigate the subway, speak German and order a drink at a bar.
Two years later, I finished my OAC year a semester early so I could return to Europe, just me, a very un-chic backpack and a Eurail pass. (I still can’t believe my parents let me do this, and pre-cellphone!) I met up with second cousins in England and Northern Ireland, friends in France and my exchange family back in Germany and spent some time on my own in London, Paris and Bordeaux, where my lack of GPS led me to some pretty interesting sights for my naïve eyes. I’ll never forget wandering down a narrow street that had a beautiful woman sitting on a chair about every 30 feet or so, which seemed way more chill than what Pretty Woman had led me to believe.
Travel is my greatest luxury and not something that I would ever let being on my own stop me from doing. Of course there’ve been some bittersweet moments, like taking in a romantic view of Budapest toute seule from a pretty bridge while my then boyfriend was back home, but I’ve also had some pretty low times away with people that I can safely say would have been a thousand times better if I’d been a free agent. Being on my own out in the world has opened me up to new experiences and people, like befriending Leila Bani, the super talented stylist I met in Vancouver last spring, and discovering the Toronto band Doomsquad after deciding to check them out on a whim when I had a night to myself in Montreal last summer.
A few months later, I tried to go to another concert incognito. Easier said than done when you’re in your hometown, even if it is Canada’s biggest city. I ran into my amazing hairstylist before I even got to the venue, and more friends in line for tickets. It just goes to show that you never know what kind of delightful surprises life has in store for you, and that’s nothing to be afraid of.