As someone who only three weeks ago went through the whole “I quit my job to backpack one-way through Southeast Asia” shpeal, I want to warn you in the way I wish I had been warned: it’s not as easy as it sounds.
In this over-romanticized world we live in, where our social media feeds are saturated with inspirational quotes about seeing the world and travel bloggers who are seamlessly living the digital nomad lifestyle, it’s easy to think you can do it too. And you probably can— but I want to let you know that it’s not as picturesque as the images flooding across your electronic screens.
It can be lonely. It can be terrifying. It can even be paralyzing at times when you are so far out of your comfort zone and you begin questioning everything you hold to be true about yourself, your past and future. It’s a lot of time in your head. And ironically, when I made the conscious decision to escape my mundane reality in the States, I hoped adventure would bring distraction.
The adventure I’ve definitely had. Yet while I walk the streets of Thailand, whether it be the islands in the South or the breathtaking Chiang Mai in the north, I am envious from my core at the couples, friends, and families experiencing this new world with someone they care about, know, and love. I am not distracted but rather reminded of the loved ones I’ve left behind even if only for a few weeks. Every fiber of my being that I left behind to pursue this new lifestyle haunts me as my head swims with thoughts of my other reality back at home, the reality I will surely return to one day. I crave some familiarity in this sea of strange unknown, but the goodbyes among new friends come as quickly as the hellos and the one thing you can count on is that you can count on nothing.
I’m told that the first two weeks are the hardest and that it gets better when you find your rhythm. Perhaps I’m coming from a darker place since I’m just starting out on this journey, for which the impetus you can read about here. And I’m hoping everyone is right and it only gets better with each passing day that I am still counting down religiously, wishing these next two months will fly by.
But, before I scare you off from pursuing this unparalleled journey of self-discovery, I feel the need to share that I’ve also grown beyond my wildest imagination in just these past two weeks alone. While traveling is a new realm of fun, it’s also been one of the hardest struggles of my anxiety-ridden life. The sights I’ve seen are humbling. Each day brings a new feat and a new challenge. I go through several highs and lows in a single day, even hour. I’ve had extreme moments of euphoria, feeling as though I can conquer the world—quite literally. I’ve made friends in minutes that I feel like I’ve known for years. I find inspiration in every corner and am slowly learning to relax and let myself be absorbed into this lifestyle where I live for myself.
So to all you wanna be solo female travelers out there, I ask if you’re up for the challenge.
Because you’ll definitely get the Instagram posts you want and the stories to go along with them. But, make sure you’re prepared for the unpainted picture that social media fails to do justice. It’s guaranteed to be a wild ride, so buckle up and good luck!