What I learned from traveling alone

Even as an introvert, I love good company. But there have been times in my life when the company that I so desired wasn’t there.

In the past, this meant limiting myself to new experiences and opportunities. I grew up with the idea that it was not ok for a young woman to travel on her own. Even the idea of going out to eat at a nice restaurant alone scared me — I mean, what would people think?

But after awhile I started to realize that, you know what? I really didn’t care what people thought.

I realized that by choosing to do what I wanted to do whether alone or in company, I was automatically putting myself above the judgments of anyone else. I was also putting myself in a position of power over my own doubts and fears. I was living my life on my own terms, and this realization was extremely relieving and empowering.

Recently, I made the decision to move — alone — hundreds of miles away from home. Since I’ve moved I’ve been doing almost everything by myself, including spending quite a bit of time traveling and exploring new places.

And I love it. I’m kind of addicted to the whole solo adventuring thing actually. There’s something very freeing and exciting about following your own schedule (or lack thereof) and treating yourself to whatever experiences you want, simply because it’s what you want.

Sure, sometimes I feel lonely. But more importantly the time alone has helped me to learn something else — something much more valuable than having someone to gratify a temporary loneliness.

It’s teaching me how to be my own best friend.

A couple of months ago I decided to take a weekend vacation to the island of Nantucket off the coast of Massachusetts. It was early in the summer and the popular vacation destination was still pretty quiet. My first morning there I woke up around 7 a.m. and walked to the beach. For as far as I could see, I had the entire stretch of sand to myself, which was pretty awesome.

As I sat on the sand listening to the waves, I couldn’t help but feel a bit emotional. There is something to be said about experiencing something so calm and beautiful entirely by yourself. In that moment, all the beauty that surrounded me was mine. And I realized I didn’t need someone sitting beside me to make the experience better. In fact, like a delicious piece of chocolate cake, having to share it in that moment would have made it worse.

And maybe that’s kind of selfish. But I’m also learning that sometimes being a little selfish is OK too.

Someday I’ll have someone to share many more amazing experiences with, and I’m excited for that. But I’ll never regret the time that I spent traveling with and getting to know another pretty cool person — myself.

Even for introverts, navigating the world alone can be overwhelming. But it also gives us the freedom to make our own decisions and choose our own path. When no one is there to make your decisions for you, you are the one who decides where to go and ultimately, where you end up.

Considering it’s your life that you’re most responsible for, shouldn’t you be the one making that choice?

You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And you are the one who’ll decide where to go.  Dr. Seuss

Image Credit: Flickr

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