This piece originally appeared on The Wanderlust Journal.
“All of my friends are guys. Girls are crazy.”
Somewhere between a relatively normal childhood and the high drama of my 20s, this became my story. It probably started somewhere in my relationship with my mom, gathered steam through a string of destructive romances, and was cemented in the bridge-burning melee of my party days.
I didn’t even know that I missed, or needed, female friendship until I finally broke free from my last toxic relationship. After a month-long, 200-hour yoga teacher training forced me to take a hard look at who I was and what I wanted, I packed up and left a five-year disaster.
To my great surprise, a former roommate came through to nurse my wounds with home-cooked meals and motherly energy. I’d been less than kind to her when we lived together, as I was buried under the weight of daily heartbreak. But after the introspection of the training, I realized that her warmth was without pretense. The fact that she still wanted to be my friend after I’d been such a mess was the first step in unraveling my long-held self-loathing.
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Traveling solo is a woman’s right of passage. Born from the classic euro-rail backpack trip your parents took post grad with their roommates. This choice in journeying looks a little different, one major factor–you’re braving it alone.
For starters, it’s ok to be a little bit afraid of this idea. That fear keeps you motivated, vigilant, capable, and proud. All important things. It’s a big world out there and without your usual tribe to help, you will have to rely on your own skill set to navigate those planes, trains, and automobiles–all day every day. It’s exhausting and incredibly rewarding. There is something inherently satisfying about lying down at night and knowing not only are you surviving, but you are thriving. You will only find out what is out in the world, and inside yourself, when you go out looking for it. Be surprised.
There are some things to keep in mind when striking out solo:
- You are on your own. This means you need to be careful, be smart, be insanely self aware. It’s easy to be sightseeing or walking to a bar and be so caught up in the magic of a new city that you ignore the need to watch your back. Be aware, be very aware. But also capitalize on this space to think, breathe, and simply do literally whatever the hell you want whenever you want. How often do we get that privilege?!
- Just because you’re alone doesn’t mean you have to be lonely. When the day is long and you want to share it with someone, you still can. Make friends. Make a ton of new friends every step along the way. Traveling alone forces you out of your comfort zone and puts you in the way of people you might otherwise pass by. Talk to them, or grab your phone and swipe right to say “Hey!” to a new vina.
- New people will show you new things. There is a blessing in meeting new people, you are also expanding your likelihood of unexpected adventures. The girl sharing a hostel room with you that you might have never talked to if you were bunking with your roommate, actually knows a killer secret trail to some ancient temple. Go on now, go with her.
- You will get to know you. If you’re like me this is the very reason you are taking this trip. And is pretty much a guarantee that you fill face some massive introspection. It will happen. Allow it to happen. There are depths of you that will scare you, and surprise you, and delight you. Invite them all in.
- Write. This might not be your cup of tea, but try. Traveling is a whirlwind and it sweeps you up and leaves you an entirely new person. It is incredible to be able to revisit that process once you are home again, and it helps to remember the person you were while on the road.
While you’re out there, have a drink for us. We raise our glasses to such a badass decision.
We could on forever about the highs and lows of traveling alone. But the truth is, the only way to get it is to go out there and get it. See you on the other side. xoxo