Going Solo, and Finding Yourself Along the Way
Going Solo, And Finding Yourself On The Way
for Pursuit Magazine
I guess they aren’t waterproof.
The thought sank in with the water droplets on my cute coat and those darling boots. I stood there, soaked, with no shield from the frigid rain. It did not matter that the rain was Milanese. It was cold, my socks were wet and I was completely alone in this gloomy city.
Other thoughts began to crowd my mind. What possessed me to embark on a 10-week journey on my own? I had overreached. I was too ambitious. I was going to fail. The thoughts spiraled out of control and I began to panic.
Things like this happen when you travel on your own. It is not for the faint of heart, because more than any challenge imposed by outside elements, the greatest challenge may actually come from within.
While traveling this summer, I understood more than ever the looming fear we have of being truly alone. It is a fear within the best of us, hiding in the background while we aimless scroll through Instagram feeds and frantically fill our time with plans and people that might validate our existence.
When there is nothing else to hide behind, that is when we truly understand our own nature. Then, after coming face-to-face and settling with this “aloneness,” do we begin to truly appreciate what is around. It is then that we see life and the opportunities it presents.
After all, do we really value friendship if it is merely a protection against a lonely life? An agent used to temporarily numb the pain of our own inadequacy?
Two days after the great Milanese depression, I found myself soaked again.
We were five strangers from different countries sitting on the hostel floor, lazily gossiping about travel adventures and past relationships. Each of us declared boisterously how we were single and traveling alone to gain a better understanding of the world and ourselves. Claire, a sweet French girl, said she felt the same but her voice seemed to falter.
“I broke up with my boyfriend exactly one week ago,” she said.
Her eyes glistened with heartbreak and in that moment the bonds of womanhood transcended all cultural and language differences and pulled us together. We held her and cried.
It was here that I understood the beauty of traveling solo. In a twist of irony, traveling on my own bound me to complete strangers, opening me up to situations I never would have experienced if traveling with friends.
The most terrifying thing about traveling alone is the idea that there is no one out there for us. We may hate being vulnerable, but the weight within us is not meant to be carried alone. So we open ourselves up to those around us, and they shoulder a bit of this burden and we stand a little taller and laugh a little longer. All this because we were alone, but we were willing to believe.
Being alone overwhelmed me with insight into the depths of my own person; I found myself able to love deeper and risk greater. In life, we all love and at some point we all lose. It is just the way the world works. However, it is when we are not afraid to be alone at the end of the day that we find the courage to step into new experiences, relationships and places.
If we get caught up in all we may lose, we may never get on the airplane.
And who knows what is at the end of the journey?