on traveling alone
During the week of Hurricane Sandy, the hardest thing I had to deal with was being by myself.
While I knew how lucky I was to be with power, with heat, and with a home, I was also sorta-kinda freaking out. For once, I had time to do all the things I always wish I could do more of — go for walks, do yoga at home, write letters, learn ukulele, read — and yet I lacked the motivation to do anything productive or creative. I found that I was bored, and boring, and lonely. And then I realized how WEIRD that was. Am I a lonely person? Do I need other people to stimulate me, inspire me? Can I not keep my own self company?
So, I told myself: “Self, you are going on a vacation. Alone. And you’re going to love it.”
Honestly, traveling alone is way different than being cooped up in your tiny apartment while there’s a natural disaster occurring outside your window. Still, it’s something I’ve always wanted to do, and I think it will teach me how to love solitude (among other things, just check out this article!)
And while I will be traveling alone, I do not plan on being alone the whole time. I’m hoping to meet people along the way, connect with friends-of-friends-of-friends for places to visit, sleep, see, etc, but I want to do it by myself. I want to sleep alone and wake up alone and figure out things on my own. Learn by myself, and about myself! And see a new place through my own eyes.
As Alain De Botton wrote, “It seemed an advantage to be traveling alone. Our responses to the world are crucially molded by the company we keep, for we temper our curiosity to fit in with the expectations of others. They may have particular visions of who we are and hence may subtly prevent certain sides of us from emerging…”
So, where am I going? It took me some time to figure that out, too. I thought about going back to Africa, but with the price of airfare I may as well buy a one-way ticket. Then I oddly really wanted to go to Ireland, but it’d be so freakin cold. Colorado or Oregon? Too familiar. Bali? Way too Eat Pray Love. And then instead of continuing to think and never decide, never actually buy my ticket, I remembered what a friend told me: It doesn’t matter where you go. It’ll be somewhere new. And that’s all that matters.
When I purchased my plane ticket, I’ll be honest: I was nervous. But then I told myself that I should JFDI (just fucking do it). That in order to do the things I love, and the things that challenge me, and even scare me, I have to make the first move. I wanted to sing, so I joined a band. I wanted to run a marathon, so I signed up. I wanted to write, so I started this blog. And now I want to make sure I can travel when I have the opportunity, the flexibility, the money (kinda), and the freedom.
So I’m going to Costa Rica. In January. For nine days. I have no set plans and only my roundtrip ticket. And I couldn’t be more excited.
Pura Vida. Full of Life. I’m going after it.