Why Walking Alone As A Young Woman Can Be Liberating
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Health and Wellness

Why Walking Alone As A Young Woman Can Be Liberating

Trust your instincts.

Why Walking Alone As A Young Woman Can Be Liberating

What makes a fear irrational?

Perhaps you're afraid of public speaking, or falling asleep without a nightlight turned on, or not being able to find your cell phone. These are irrational fears because even though you may be exceedingly frightened by them, they pose no real threat or danger in most situations.

But what about walking alone---especially as a female?

Walking is the oldest and most natural form of human transportation; it requires nothing more than your two legs to get you from Point A to Point B. In many places, people have no option other than walking. But does it mean danger?

When we hear stories about young females like Elizabeth Smart and Jaycee Dugard being kidnapped and held captive for weeks, months, or even years, forced to suffer the most terrible and cruel abuses such as rape, violence, and starvation, it is very easy to become extremely afraid and protective of ourselves and the young females in our lives. The world becomes a place of limbo, where, if you encounter one misstep, everything you know can come crumbling down.

But is this an accurate view of the world?

While it's true that there is always a risk in everything you do, the risk of being kidnapped while walking is actually relatively low, and there are effective measures you can take individually to decrease that risk and increase your safety.

As a child, I spent much of my time outside, playing in the neighborhood. I would also often walk or ride my bike to and from school. When I was very young, I never did any of these activities alone, but when I got a little bit older, I learned ways to travel alone safely.

I would never walk alone in an area I wasn't completely familiar with. My typical walk was to my school, which was a few blocks away and I knew that route probably better than I knew myself.

For most of this time, I didn't have a cellphone, but I got a cell phone for Christmas in seventh grade. Instead, I had a network of knowledge of which houses I could trust. My mother had gone on the walk to and from school with me many times, and I was very familiar with which houses were "safe," as I knew the people who lived in them, or my parents knew them, and trusted them.

If a stranger ever approached me or I felt unsafe, my mom told me to run to one of these houses (and I had options on every street), and call my mom from the house's phone, so she could pick me up.

Luckily, I lived in a pretty safe neighborhood, and I only had to use this technique a couple times. The first time, a man I didn't recognize was following me very closely in his car, and my instinct told me I wasn't safe, as he was driving exceedingly slowly and following me at every turn. I ran into one of my friend's houses, and my mom picked me up from there.

The second time, it started to storm pretty badly, and I didn't feel safe walking alone, so I actually went into one of my former teacher's houses, who lived in the neighborhood. Often times, my destination would be one of my friend's houses in the neighborhood, anyways, so I would just seek refuge there.

I also went to self-defense classes (which were free, and offered at the local public library) at a young age, so that if a stranger ever made advances on me, I would know how to disable them. Luckily, I never had to use these self-defense tactics on anyone seriously...but I was able to finally get out of the headlocks my older brother would put me in when he would mess with me, like older brothers do!

If I was ever lost in a public area, I knew right away to go up to either a recognizable employee of the place (a cashier if I was at a department store, for example) because that is likely the first place my parents would check, as well. Or, if I was lost somewhere where this wouldn't apply, to find a mom with kids and tell her about my situation, so she could call my parents. I had to do both of these things a few times.

Most importantly, and this should be a given, I never accepted rides from strangers. I held to this religiously. Of course, when people see a child walking alone, they often feel obligated to offer the child a ride, especially since it seemed that I was one of the few children who actually did enjoy walking alone.

That said, if someone did roll down their car window and offer me a ride, they had to meet specific criteria for me to accept their offer: they had to be someone I knew personally, and that my parents knew personally, they had to be someone whose house I had been to before & felt safe there, and they couldn't be alone in the car--if they had their child in the car with them, and I knew the child well, along with meeting the rest of the criteria, I might have said yes. Personally, I just enjoyed walking!

I still do enjoy walking. I'm lucky that I live on a pretty safe campus, where there's almost always somebody around who could serve as both surveillance and a witness if anything were to happen to somebody.

Walking alone gives me an opportunity to clear my head, more thoroughly appreciate nature and my surroundings, go at my own pace, and go into a more creative place in my own mind. It's both relaxing and invigorating at the same time, and I almost always feel better afterward. Plus, it brings with it a sense of personal freedom.

Many parents are perfectly content with allowing their children to zone out on the couch to hours upon hours of screen time, which does have its place as a small portion of one's "entertainment and growth 'diet'," but it is unhealthy and numbing for this to be the main activity children are participating in.

Accountability and preparation are most important for walking alone. The world is there for our taking, so let us experience it in its full richness.

Plus, so many more people have cell phones these days---a direct line of communication if there's ever the slightest fear of danger. It should seem that parents would be more encouraging of their children venturing out into the neighborhood, but in many cases, it is the opposite, even with the "track your location" feature on cellphones.

Helicopter parents may be able to fly themselves, but their children could be called "birdcage kids," as their not able to expand their boundaries at all.

Furthermore, most victims of abuse and kidnapping suffer at the hand of an acquaintance, family member, or someone they've been in a relationship with. Many times, this abuse goes unreported and the kidnapping is not publicized as such.

While a stranger still can commit these crimes, the peril is not quite as prevalent as shows like Criminal Minds might make it appear.

Finally, you know your situation better than anyone else does. There's no denying that there are some extremely unsafe neighborhoods out there, where you might be afraid to walk out of your home in broad daylight with a large group.

But, for many people, their fears will never come to fruition and they could be missing out on so much.

Remember: know yourself, know your area, know how to defend yourself, and, most importantly: trust your instincts. We have them for a reason.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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