flying solo

I have fallen in love with myself.

As corny and dorky as it sounds, it is true. Took me a while and endured some tough lessons to get here, but I have arrived. This photo was taken by a new friend during my first ever cruise with WOD on the Waves. I was feeling alive, confident, and a little bit scared of losing my phone out on the SUPER windy helipad/bow of the ship, but I wanted to capture this moment of one of the best and most fun weeks of my life thus far.

Lately I’ve been getting messages from a good number of people asking what it’s like to travel solo. I always wanted to go camping, so last year I finally took myself out there and gifted myself that experience. I went camping every other week for 4 months straight, and all but one of those trips were solo. I’ve traveled to… 6 countries now. Visited many major cities in the United States. People have been asking me what it’s like to travel as a solo female: is it scary? Do you get lonely? What do you DO out there all by yourself?

In all honesty, it’s so easy and second-nature to me now. But it didn’t always feel like that. I was previously used to traveling with friends or a partner and took comfort in being able to lean on a group of other people in case something happened. I was used to enjoying their laughter, company, and connection. I am fortunate to have a job and schedule that let me travel to my heart’s content. I want to take full advantage of my free time, so I go places that I want to go to, even if that means no one else can go with me.

It was admittedly an adjustment to going to hotels by myself and eating out by myself… but I have learned to love it! I meet people, I’m free to stay at places for as long (or as short!) as I want to, and I get to spend quality time with myself. I think in the hustle and bustle of every day life, we can easily lose track of who we are and what we want. Traveling solo grounds and refreshes my spirit and gets me back in touch with the most important person in my life: me. The laughter, company, and connection that I once shared with others are now things that I cherish with and FOR myself.

There are obviously risks, like with anything else in life, with traveling solo. My scariest moment was probably out on a hike to the Bridge to Nowhere in LA. There was zero cell phone service, and I saw maybe 10 people total that day on the entire hike. One part of the trail alongside a cliff was super washed out and full of loose gravel. I almost lost my footing and pictured myself sliding down the mountain to my death, or to a major injury with no one around to help and no way to contact anyone. Fortunately I made it across just fine, but that experience made me think twice about how far to push my limits. I do my best to mitigate any risk by letting family and friends know where I will be and at what times they should be hearing from me. But there is no way to 100% mitigate all risks of death or injury. Even staying locked up at home in bed all day and night carries the risk of death. So I figure I may as well LIVE, and I mean truly live, for as long as I can and as thoughtfully/carefully as I can. If I can die doing anything, then I might as well live doing exactly what I want.

I’m touched that the people asking me these questions have shared that I inspire them and that I’m brave for doing all this. While it warms my heart to hear this and I’m honored to witness them connecting with vulnerability… I honestly don’t do these things to inspire others. I do them because it’s what I’m interested in and it’s the area in which I’m currently choosing to grow. I think being our authentic selves is just something that others recognize as real and true. One of my favorite quotes is:

“… And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Marianne Williamson

Additionally, bravery means different things to different people. I was brave for doing this in the beginning, because it was out of my comfort zone. Now I’m just used to it and do it because I love it; I don’t think I’m brave for this anymore. Singing karaoke on the cruise, on the other hand… It was so easy and natural for some people. I couldn’t muster up the courage to do it this year… But I’ll do it during #WOW20! This is definitely an area of bravery I would like to expand.

I’m truly, thoroughly enjoying this chapter of my life. I imagine that someday I will want to travel with a partner again, and THAT will be a new “brave” thing for me to conquer. I’ve fallen so in love with spending time with myself that it will probably take a LOT for me to open up, be vulnerable, and let someone else in on my adventures. I saw this quote once, and I think it sums up my 29-years-old perspective quite well:

“My alone feels so good, I’ll only have you if you’re sweeter than my solitude.” – Warsan Shire

The current and full expression of my life is to adventure, play, and explore solo. That expression will very likely change someday. But until then, I am going to enjoy the heck out of all my experiences.

If I were to offer one piece of advice about flying solo, it would be this: do what YOU authentically want to do. Don’t do it because other Instagrammers are doing it, or because of “Eat, Pray, Love,” or because you feel like that’s what you “should” be doing with your life right now. Don’t compare your “brave” thing to someone else’s seemingly “brave” thing. Look inward. Reflect on what YOU actively want for your life. And then go out and pursue it with all the bravery and courage you can muster. Unleash whatever dreams you have inside you and let them out into the fresh air of this gorgeous world.

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