Explore. Dream. Discover

“The man who goes alone can start today… he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready.” (Henry David Thoreau)

Shannon Freeman, a DC based hair stylist, approached an upcoming birthday focused on her personal and professional growth. Ultimately, who will invest in you more than yourself?! With this in mind, Shannon waited for no one’s approval or availability. She gifted herself a unique experience that involved travel alone from DC to London and Barcelona for the first time.

Let’s face it, how many of us can say that they know many people who voluntarily pick a place on the map where they have no friends, family or frame of reference and simply get on a plane and embrace the unknown for their birthday. While we, at September Set, were able to chime in and say yes to this idea, Shannon took the cake when it came to her solo birthday party. 

As many entered the New Year with resolutions that include weight loss numbers, new gym memberships, book lists or budget goals, Shannon decided to literally begin a journey with herself. With an intentional hiatus from dating, the idea of traveling alone entered her mind for the first time and the world opened up for Shannon. This decision landed a new found freedom of deciding where to go and what to do without factoring in other’s opinions or feelings.

Excited about this journey that connects with the spirit of September Set, we sat down with Shannon Freeman to discuss her adventure and its personal impact. Here’s a bit of what she shared after spending two weeks in London and Barcelona.

SS: What made you choose travel to London and Barcelona for your birthday trip?

SF: I saw a color class offered by Vidal Sassoon in London and could easily travel to Barcelona from London. Plus, the timing around my birthday was good. It sounded perfect, so, I just started saving in advance and planned my trip.

SS: Tell us about traveling alone. How was it?

SF: I never felt unsafe while traveling alone. I used my common sense. Always wearing a crossbody (style) bag and having a plan of where I was going so I didn’t look like a tourist was helpful. Also, when talking to people I didn’t disclose that I was alone.

SS: What were the biggest challenges that you faced?

SF: Going out at night was a challenge. I was pushed to talk and socialize with people that I didn’t know, which was outside of my comfort zone. In Barcelona, language was a barrier.

SS: London…Barcelona. Tell us about your favs in each.

SF: In London, I found inspiration. It is very fashion forward; classic hairstyles there would be considered edgy here (US). Cut and color is done well there. I saw pockets of fashion but a lot of people were regular too.  London is very mixed (with diversity). The street markets were very vibrant.

Barcelona had a lot of aesthetic beauty. Art in Barcelona, like Gaudy is vibrant. The food was great in Barcelona. I had the best paella and sangria ever.  Lobster paella I ate at a restaurant there was amazing!

It was something to celebrate my birthday in Barcelona, to see the level of service and presentation was amazing.

SS: Where would you go back and why?

SF: Once my class ended in London, I traveled to Barcelona right away. I would like to get more time to hang out in London. Next year, I plan to return to London and see more there.

SS: What did you find eye opening about your experience?

SF: Travel shows we all deal with the same things.

SS: Would you recommend this experience to other women?

SF: I would recommend this for all women to do at some point. It helps you figure out what you like and don’t like. The experience shows a lot about yourself and pushes your boundaries.

As we approach the end of 2018, Shannon ends her dating hiatus very clear about what she wants and is willing to accept; which has strengthened her own appreciation of her worth and potential. Ultimately, providing her the ability to share a lot more of herself with others. We applaud Shannon for not only taking a risk in the name of growth, but also for embracing discomfort during a time when many expect comfort. Now, she can wholeheartedly share the words of James Baldwin, “I met a lot of people in Europe. I even encountered myself”, and we are so happy for her.

Shannon Freeman is a DC based hair stylist at Taylor and York Salon https://www.taylorandyorksalon.com/. Check her out on Instagram via @shannotstan