There I was age 27, not loving my job, not loving where I lived, and in a personal rut. I wasn’t waking up each day excited about life and ready to take on the day. I was waking up not wanting to go to work, not wanting to sit in Los Angeles traffic, and just completely unsure about life. One day I turned on the movie Wild and while I cannot say I relate to what she lived or went through in that movie, it did however give me enough perspective to decide to take a step towards finding myself and what I wanted in life.
That was the night I decided, I would quit my job and go travel through Asia – alone.
I am not going to sit here and say solo travel is something everyone “must do” once in his or her life. I am also not going to sit here and say its something everyone “shouldn’t do” once in his or her life. Solo travel in my opinion is a very personal thing. It takes courage and strength to have a desire to go out of your comfort zone and put yourself in unknown and sometimes challenging situations.
It takes great consideration for those who love you and want to keep you safe as well as consideration for what might come after the traveling ends because as much as you may want to escape life for a while, the life you had at home will still be waiting for you to return.
1. I learned how to REALLY listen to myself.
A lot of times we are in such a motion of life we do not take time to ourselves to reflect and to listen to what our heart is telling us. Whether your vice be work, drugs, alcohol or something else. We sometimes tend to ignore what we are truly feeling to continue on without change even if change is what we truly desire. I learned to stop drowning out what my heart was saying and just started listening.
2. I learned how to be patient.
I cannot say how much this helped with my patience level. I was the woman always in control, on the go and ready for the next thing. When you travel for an extended period of time things will go wrong. It is absolutely inevitable. Planes will be delayed or cancelled or your Airbnb cancels on you the day you are supposed to check in. Things will go wrong. As you continue traveling you learn to be less in control and to go with the punches as they come at you.
3. I learned the truth about loneliness.
It was my first morning in Hong Kong when I walked into a coffee shop and saw a sign on the wall, “Loneliness is a sign you are in desperate need of yourself.” There may be a lot of down time when you solo travel so being ok with being alone is something you will get use to. A lot of people do not realize that between all those amazing photos and blog post’s is a lot of sitting and roaming cities with no one, but you.
4. I found my independence.
Now, mind you I have always considered myself pretty independent, but this experience has taken me to a whole new level. Eating out at restaurants, striking up conversations with people on patios you have never met nor will likely see again, adventurous day trips with no one else to go with. There is truly nothing I will not do by myself. I also now believe it is possible to be “too independent.” This was what came after I got back when I stopped doing things with other people and went to do them on my own. There is a fine line between independence and seclusion, learning to balance on that line was a tough lesson to learn.
5. And most importantly: I learned you can’t run from life.
I went to Asia to hopefully figure out what I wanted to do in life and where I wanted to do it. Sadly those two things were not figured out while I was there and even though I was hoping for a miracle sign of how to deal these decisions, it didn’t happen. I had managed to run away for almost two months before coming back and all those decisions and people were starring right back at me.