A couple of years ago my life as I had known it fell apart. My five-year long relationship ended and I lost my job of five years as well. And what is worse – I couldn’t find another one within my skill range for a while.
Together with my partner, I lost a life companion and more than that. Since I neglected my own friends, my partner’s friends practically became my own for that entire five-year period.
After the relationship ended, I was lost and devastated. I needed a new beginning in every aspect of my life. I felt a deep need to leave my hometown and the ruins of my previous life and pick up the pieces of myself, but I had no one to travel with at that point.
So, inspired by my colleague who traveled alone at one point and had a great time, I decided to embark upon the unknown and give myself much needed time off.
Although I was reluctant at first, traveling solo shook me up to the core and initialized my personal growth.
Getting Out of My Comfort Zone
Before this adventure, I was frightened of the unknown.
I usually clung to the familiar stuff. I felt safe and comfortable with my family and long-term friends. When I think of myself back then, before my life collapsed I was quite fearful and insecure. I had so many doubts about everything.
I didn’t think I could manage to find my way alone in a foreign country. I was worried about my safety as well.
Now, I am very proud of myself for mustering up the courage to make that (almost quantum) leap and get out of my comfort zone.
After traveling alone, I have become more adventurous and courageous. I tried so many things I wouldn’t have dared before. Taking up adventures made me feel alive.
Gaining Back My Confidence
Throughout the years I have changed my cosmetic routine and my perspective on beauty standards. Before traveling solo, I was so concerned about my hair, my makeup, my outfits. I succumbed to unrealistic beauty standards and felt the pressure to always look my best.
Actually, I didn’t let almost anybody see me without my makeup on! Crazy, right?
I used to have issues with my body as I was always a bit chubby.
Traveling made me embrace my natural look and be more relaxed. I didn’t always have the time to prepare and look flawless, so bit by bit I had to let go of my perfection obsession.
Also, while traveling solo and seeing human diversity, it became clear to me that beauty standards are a fabricated concept.
Increasing My Independence
This was a tricky part for me since I was used to the support of my partner and family.
As time went by, I learned that becoming self-reliant was exactly what I needed to get to know myself better and put my skills and talents to good use.
Since I was traveling alone I was forced to decide for myself and face difficulties on my own.
I had to learn to rely on my own resources and sometimes go the extra mile to find ways to resolve all the issues that came along.
For instance, for years I wanted for my partner and myself to explore the crystal clear waters of the Calanques National Park near Marseille.
When I became single, I started thinking about doing it on my own. Since I didn’t want to miss enjoying those astonishing landscapes, I made a decision to prepare well for solo hiking and dived in.
And you know what happened? I had the time of my life!
This experience made me more independent and more resourceful.
Making Authentic Connections
When traveling alone, you are bound to meet new people and socialize with strangers.
This really helps at broadening your horizons, changing your views, and becoming more open-minded.
When I look back, I met some of the most amazing people in some of the most stunning surroundings.
We had no previous background together, yet we managed to connect on a deep level and exchange our life stories, our hurts and fears, as well as our hopes.
Some of the people I met along the way were doing incredible things. In Egypt, I met a young man who managed to escape extreme poverty and become a hotel manager.
Connecting with people from different countries and walks of life can have a transformational effect.
Learning the Importance of Gratitude
While exploring the Kazbegi mountain in Georgia with a group, I met a (super)woman.
She was always laughing and cracking jokes. While we were having lunch together, a local band came on the stage. The superwoman was first to jump and start dancing. She invited us all to join her and let ourselves go for a moment.
Later, she told us the story of her life.
She had a six-year old son, who had a brain tumor that left him blind. At that moment he was cancer-free and learning to live without his eyesight. I was speechless.
That same woman was the life of the party and dealing with some exceptionally hard life issues at the same time.
This was a life-changing moment for me.
I realized that heartbreak is hard. So is losing a job and feeling torn apart. But there are much worse things in life that people go through. I realized there is a lot of things to be thankful for that I have disregarded.
Adopting a New Perspective on Life and Its Challenges
Hearing all the life stories along the road has put my own troubles into perspective.
Those were just a few bad episodes – a part of the life cycle.
This life still has a lot in the store for me and it might bring wonderful new things.
Of course, I am not going to sit and wait. I am out there, living a full life.
Solo trips helped me heal after a stressful period in my life. I realized how happy and honored I am to be healthy, alive and having the chance to see the world and enjoy our beautiful planet.
I have been traveling alone for years now. This great adventure has made me humble and thankful for what I have.
Nina Simons is a lifestyle blogger, yoga aficionado and travel enthusiast with a distinctive taste for home decor. She’s passionate about learning new things and sharing meaningful ideas. In her free time, she loves to design clothes and furniture. If you wanna see what she’s up to you can find her on Twitter.
Image courtesy of Justin Luebke.