I urge you. I urge you to book a single ticket for one of the weekend treks that starts from your city. Choose any trek organisation that follows mandatory guidelines of safety. But do leave your familiar group of friends behind and choose one such trek with absolute strangers. I bet you will not stop with one!
Trekking with a group of strangers regularly has some benefits to the mind. I'm not talking neuroscience here but simple mental wellness that's in your control. I did my first such trek in July 2016. And it was two such treks that eventually led me to travel solo.
So, here are six things trekking with a group of strangers does to you!
1) Puts you out of your comfort zone
You don't have your gang around. This makes you more open to striking a conversation with someone beside you, around you. And likewise, it nudges you to try things that you wouldn't otherwise do.
2) Makes you more open-minded
We come with our biases, right? But when you meet a person different from your mindset and if you put efforts to understand their point of view, it is your point of view that stretches. You learn to look at things beyond one perspective.
3) Offers a glimpse into different cultures, languages, communities
We tend to stick to people who are similar to us or belong to the same state or language. Similarity is comforting. However, on a trek, you get to interact with diverse people, diverse in terms of language, state, profession, community, race, gender. And the more you are exposed to diversity, the more you start to respect it, accept it. On the longer run, it facilitates self-acceptance too.
4) Helps you deconstruct the stereotypes
When you meet diverse people on a trek, you realise that media portrayals of some communities can be utterly misleading; what you see or hear are stereotypes that need not be true. It wouldn't take you long to become aware that we're only human and humane beneath some superficial identities.
5) Boosts team leader and team player qualities
Not everyone on a trek has the same stamina and endurance. Few might be quick, few others may take time. It is during these differences that an efficient team leader or a supportive team player in you emerges.
6) Helps you make some new friends, even some friends for life!
You might wonder how that's possible over a day/weekend-trek, but trust me, in the lap of the mountains, people are more themselves. With no network, we indeed indulge in the luxury of conversations. And in the heart of honest conversations, friendships are made!
If you've had similar experiences, please share in the comments. :)
If you know somebody who's hesitating to go on such a trek solo, share this with them! ;)