I’m only in my second week of solo traveling, and I have already been humbled countless times. I will wholeheartedly admit that I walked into this journey a tad bit cocky.
With many months of traveling abroad under my belt, I assumed solo travel would be a walk in the park. Turns out it’s more like climbing a mountain and realizing halfway up you forgot your water.
I’m quickly realizing that traveling solo is a fast track to self-awareness. You think you know yourself pretty well until you’re in the middle of nowhere with no cell phone service and nobody around to ask for help. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t scary and frustrating sometimes.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m having the time of my life, and I’m blessed to be here. But, it has not been an easy adventure. I had forgotten how much mental and physical energy is required to travel, and traveling alone takes exhaustion to a whole new level. It’s just me, myself, and I against the world this time.
Being alone on this journey means everything rides on me. There isn’t someone else here to make decisions, to problem solve, to cheer me up when I’m feeling down, to lend a helping hand when I’m feeling overwhelmed. It’s a lot, and it’s bringing forward a lot of character defects.
Going into this trip, I anticipated the loneliness and rollercoaster of emotions, but there truly isn’t anything you can do to prepare for it. You just have to go through it to get through it. It’s a learning experience, much like everything else in life.
I’m learning things about myself that I might never have known if I didn’t take this trip. I’m not talking about small things like anger or irritation. I’m talking about profound, underlying aspects of my life– like how I never truly understood what it meant to be alone until now.
Let’s unpack this really quickly. Maybe you’ll relate too.
Ask yourself. What does it mean to be alone? What does it mean to be lonely?
I’ve come to realize that being alone and being lonely are two completely different things. Being alone does not mean you are lonely, and being lonely does not mean you are alone.
For me, being alone is painstaking silence. It’s spending the whole day not speaking but having endless conversations in my own head. It’s a feeling of solitude and self-dependence. It’s spending weeks not seeing a familiar face. It’s learning how to love myself.
Loneliness, on the other hand, is a mental detachment from the outside world. It’s not just being by yourself in your room or spending all of your weekends alone. Loneliness is something you can feel in a room full of people. It’s fear disguised as comfort.
During this trip, I have been more alone than ever before. After the first week, I started to experience feelings that I hadn’t endured before, and I struggled to understand them.
I automatically attributed them all to being alone and slapped a loneliness label on them.
This was my first mistake.
Labels, in a weird way, stop you from growing. You stop investigating as soon as you think you have something figured out. And that’s exactly what happened.
I started to feel down and miss people back home. I was questioning why I even left the country in the first place. I was longing for the feeling of comfort.
Why? Because I was scared.
My emotions were getting the best of me, and I needed to take back the reigns in my life. I sat down, turned on my camera, and started talking to myself.
Before I knew it, I realized I wasn’t lonely. I realized I was just going through the motions of experiencing a million new things at once. I gave myself permission to feel whatever I was feeling and promised myself to be resilient.
Guess what? By the end of the day, I was out of my funk, alone, and loving every moment of it.
Every day I wake up and face my fears over and over again. I go into the world, have that breakfast by myself, walk down the street with no one by my side, and go to sleep with nothing but the comfort of my soul.
This is what it’s about. This is why I do what I do.
Because I don’t want to stay in the same place of comfort my whole life. I don’t want to rely on other people, situations, or circumstances to dictate my feelings. I don’t want to be complacent. I don’t want to be lonely.
I want to identify my flaws and weaknesses, look them dead in the eye, and tell them to fuck right off. I want the voices in my head to get so loud that they shout from the rooftops.
And guess what? That’s exactly what I’m doing.
I’m waking up and unlearning old behaviors. I’m shedding the skin of the girl who no longer suits me. I’m finding comfort in being alone. I’m sharing my story. I’m becoming my best self. I’m becoming my own best friend, my own home, my own safe space.
I’m becoming me.
Until next time…
XOXO, The Departed Creature