When I decided I would go traveling alone for months, I could only imagine all the freedom and adventures that I will embark on that journey. How everything about it would be all mine and mine alone. Mine to explore, to experience, to decide.
I thought that was what I signed up for. So I packed my bags, got on a flight then I was thousands of miles away from home and alone. Just like how I wanted. So for the first few weeks, I was just high on all the adventures. I loved how freeing it felt to be able to take my time and do my own thing, also going wherever and whenever I want to go.
Then more weeks went by, an unforeseen but palpable sense of being alone in the worst way possible festering rapidly. I started resenting myself for taking a chance on solo traveling and leaving the comfort of home or turning down friends who offer to join in this adventure. It got unbearably bad that it almost pushed me to buy a ticket to go home.
You’re alone in the new environment, with no one you know or even speak the same language as you and everything is just different. While newness is exciting, sometimes it can also be really unnerving. This is a valid reason to feel alone and lonely. In fact, I feel it’s kind of normal even inevitable, like a rite of passage of solo traveling.
But we might feel people don’t feel that way while traveling. Then this very thought leads us to seek reasons to beat ourselves up. I feel like, in the world where we would show off only every good side of life, there is definitely a pressure to somewhat be constantly happy. We see them everywhere on our social media, all these people wandering all over the world having the time of their life. But we sometimes forget that we never get to see the flip side of that. It’s very unlikely that people would be vulnerable enough to post themselves crying in the corner of their hostel room.
We need to remind ourselves not to hold our expectation of experiencing our travel with experiences of others. It is our own journey so might as well enjoy everything that comes with it and just ride the waves.
It’s only a phase, but only if you let it
I made the horrible mistake of letting it gone for too long. Trust me, you don’t want to be too involved with this loneliness thing because somehow you’ll find a way to be comfortable with it. It sucks and it might make you not feel like doing anything. So instead of exploring, you’re stuck in your room, eating your emotions out and trying to feel better. Your time, no matter if you’re planning to travel for the whole year round or a few months, let alone a few days is way too precious to spend it feeling sorry for yourself. Don’t let this ruin your plan!
After realizing that I had been spending a few days succumbing to my sadness in a room and pestering people at home to talk to me, I finally came to my senses and ended the self-pity party right then and there. Now I’ll tell you, I feel like it helps to take the time and just take it all in and cry it out of your system but not for more than a few hours or else it would just lose its effectiveness. You have to be determined to pull yourself out of it, even if it means you’ll hate yourself (just for a bit) for dragging your feet outside.
Traveling doesn’t instantly change you
Maybe I had been a little bit delusional when I was daydreaming that a new place might turn me into a super extrovert life-of-a-party-kind of person and befriends everyone I pass by. I thought it’d be like a new blank canvas and I could be whoever I want to be. Traveling doesn’t do that to you though, it doesn’t instantly find you a new personality and make all of your insecurities disappear. If anything, It’d actually reveal more about yourself that you might not know about.
I have always been an introvert. So it was hard for me to deal with the change of feelings when I start to hate being alone. I realized that I had to finally come face to face with my fears and discomfort in meeting new people and putting myself out there. It was the scariest thing I have ever done but now I am so glad that I forced myself to do it. Yes, I am still an introvert and I still love being left on my own devices. The difference is now I also know that approaching people is not as terrifying as it seems and I see challenges as an opportunity to grow. Truly, the only way to be a better and refined version of yourself is to learn and grow from challenges and experiences.
Yes, loneliness can help to improve yourself!
Solitude can absolutely be a beautiful thing. It can be everything that we had hoped for before jumping on that plane. This experience can shape you for enhancing your personal growth but to do that you might have to put yourself up for challenges and overcoming your fear.
Anyway, I don’t believe loneliness is just about having people around or to talk to. I think it’s about a scarcity of finding a connection with someone. There are little things you can do to feel connected to others. It can start as simple as a hello or a genuine exchange of smiles. But if you try to push yourself to get beyond the fears of rejection or people perception of you then you might be surprised by the outcome.
You’re free to mess up or embarrass yourself anyway. No one you know will be there to laugh at you and retell the story to people back at home. You can just heal from that and just forget about it. Also, people are way kinder than we think. Not to mention that most people also go through things like this and feel the same emotions. Which means they are probably lonely too and wish someone would talk to and connect with them.
The whole journey of solo traveling is a series of experiences that will teach you a lot of things in life. Take this loneliness to challenge your limitations. This is not easy, being alone in the most uncomfortable situation takes a lot of courage. At the end of this, you will come out to have an understanding about yourself and hopefully appreciate yourself more for the person that you have become from conquering the discomfort.
If you have been traveling alone, have you ever felt lonely? what is your take on it? let me know in the comment!
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