I’ve always been a bit of a loner. I grew up home schooled in the middle of the woods, with only my younger brother for company most of the time. I learned to develop my imagination on my own and entertain myself outdoors. I became so used to doing my own thing that it was strange to adjust once my parents divorced and my life changed.
When I began attending public school, I actually embraced the structure and regularity of my schedule. I’d never had much routine in my life and so I craved it. Now that I’m adult, however, I find that my true soul is still that of a restless, solitary adventurer. I lost myself for a long time only to realize that much of what I loved as a child is what I truly need now.
No longer bogged down in the nonsense and noise of the wrong path I’d taken, I’ve recommitted myself to exploration. I waited for too many years for the right person to come along and accompany me on my journeys. He never did. I was afraid of approaching the unfamiliar alone.
Over the past year, I rejected my fears and decided to make up for lost time. I started venturing deeper into nature on my own. I began traveling to new cities alone. I took solo road trips to get away from civilization and write and think in the peace that only the mountains and desert can provide. I flew halfway around the world all by myself to visit a country I knew hardly anything about and roamed happily without fear.
Every journey strengthened my self-confidence and resolve. I felt like a newly independent woman. Traveling opened my eyes not only to the world but to myself. Doing so alone allowed me to truly immerse in the wonders of my surroundings. I stayed in hostels for the first time. I met new people from all parts of the world, of all ages, each with their own unique story. I abandoned many naïve misconceptions. As someone who hasn’t been comfortable in my own skin for years, it was amazing to not only accept my solitude, but embrace it wholeheartedly.
I’ve found that solo travel forces me to meet people, which I adore. I’m naturally a bit introverted, and if I have a companion it’s all too easy to stay in my bubble with that person. It’s impossible to avoid making new acquaintances when I’m journeying alone. I find myself enraptured by speaking with strangers in an unfamiliar space, even if it’s only for a short time. I take the extra steps to communicate in ways I would usually feel too uncomfortable to attempt.
I also love exploring alone because I can enjoy exactly the experience I want. If I feel like cramming in a day of sightseeing and adventure, barely stopping to eat or sleep, I can do so without interruption. If I want to linger for hours at a museum, no one gets impatient with me. If I want to hike all day long, no one holds me back or forces me to turn around early. If I need an afternoon to relax, lie around and reflect, I can do that without anyone nagging me to go out. It is, quite frankly, lovely.
I spend my money where I want and skim in the areas that don’t really matter to me. I’d rather get out and do things – I don’t give a damn about fancy lodging or meals. I want to experience the true local flavor of wherever I roam. I want to eat street food and learn about the best secret sightseeing spots from the people who reside there. I want to do exactly what I want, how I want, when I want, as much as life allows.
Often others don’t understand. Some take offense to my decision to adventure solo. Because I’m different from them, they find it strange that I enjoy my solitude so much. I’ve learned that I cannot control their reactions to my choice. I can only live the way I feel is best for me. I refuse to compromise any longer on this beautiful journey I call my life. I want to embrace my experiences and immerse myself as fully as possible. I’ve found, for me, that’s best done alone.