The romanticized reality of traveling is so dependent on who you are with and what money you carry. You don’t need to be with anyone or with any money to have that mystical experience that can be oh so real; though it is true it depends on how you utilize those assets that change the outcome.
I am nervous to travel alone. Those fears come from the idea that the more the merrier, that I need another to feel complete, that I need someone to take photos with and to laugh with. Great times those are but they are not all.
I am nervous for the people that want to take advantage of me because I am alone new to their territory. I am naive to your streets and your language.
But I am more nervous about traveling with person that drags me down emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually thus ruining that potential for an amazing or even humbling trip.
I wrote this little bit in my journal spring 2017. Since then I have traveled a lot—more than I ever thought I would travel at least. I have traveled in many different ways, with friends, with their parents, with my boyfriend, with strangers, alone, with some cash on me, with none at all. I have seen hard times and easy moments during my travels and it has allowed me to grow in areas that I didn’t know was weak.
Today, I am sitting in a cafe in Shanghai, China. It was not an easy day but if you saw my movements as a spectator to my life you’d say it was an alright day. Well the truth is, I was stressing all day and night the day before my flight and I believe that set up my mentality for today. It was like a roller coaster of feeling excited about going to China and feeling really nervous about going to China. This feeling of nervousness and excitement was a subconscious build up of emotions and overthinking that I hadn’t been fully aware of until the the day before my trip that had hardly been planned properly. Part of me felt ashamed because I was not decisive about my trip at all; I went back and forth on when I would come to visit my friend. Due to that indecision I was left to wander Shanghai alone while my friend had to work. That is actually not a problem as I normally am joyful to have my alone time. The thing was, despite my attempts to plan my trip to Shanghai, I felt like I had nothing to do simply because of a mental block that I was having starting from before I even left Hong Kong. I had been letting thoughts of things that had already passed or that are out of my control take too much space in my mind. I was worried that I had upset my friend, I was nervous that I would forget something important but remember things that are very unimportant like serval colors of lipstick. I was hopeful I would love Shanghai and want to live here, I was debating whether or not I should learn Mandarin; I concerned myself with worries for the future instead of being present. I was letting my mind run, I slept very little and felt dehydrated for nearly 12 hours no matter how much water I drank; I did however school everyone in the airport on how to go through security swiftly and smoothly—I’ve become quite the pro. And although in this moment it is a little joke for me (maybe it isn’t so funny for you) but the point in that moment is yes I have learned a lot and I have not lost the skills I have learnt.
Just one year ago I was shuffling three too many bags around country to country. Just three years ago I was over packing for a weekend at grandmas where all I needed was a bathing suit and pjs. I have learnt many things and travelling is a skill that I have been advancing in as the opportunity has presented itself and I have worked for. However, the fear and the nerves causing my to sweat through a sleepless night is also okay because I know I have still sooooo much to learn.
And so today I have wandered and thought, I fed myself with miso soup on this cold rainy day, and also my mind and heart with patience and love. I acknowledge the missing I felt towards the friends and family in my life that I don’t see anymore when I used to see them every day. I confronted the worry I felt when I was concerned that I wasn’t utilizing my day to its fullest. Then I took the next step in asking myself, how can I make myself feel better? How can I change this situation. Good. Great. I have confronted the feelings I was feeling. But feelings are not everything. On I went in a different mindset to move past my feelings and fulfill myself and my day.
The streets today were rained on and walked on mucho. Thoughts and feels were discussed in my mind. The street presented its natural art and it inspired me to do the same. So here I am writing to you about the fears we all have about being alone, whether for travel or for life.
Without this post becoming too much of a rant, I just want to express two things. Traveling alone is something everyone must do in their life. It is something all of us do even if we cannot travel as far as outside of our town or city. Traveling alone is a beautiful thing that if you can do it outside of your comfort zone it can only build your self-confidence and self-love. Second, if you feel stress, nerves, angst, or excitement about your solo traveling do not be afraid to share those sentiments. Others understand you and can probably relate whether it is about walking home from school alone or traveling to another country alone. It is common and it is normal and it may never leave no matter how experienced in traveling you may become, there will always be something that compromises your comfort when you travel.