To endure heightened emotions, I turn to two things: the outdoors or writing. When it comes down to it, I am a writer. I vent in the formation of words, sometimes silly and dramatic, sometimes not. Sometimes they take shape as a Tweet, sometimes as a blog post, sometimes as a text to a friend, sometimes as lengthy ramblings that go unpublished.
When my ex’s new girlfriend chose to message me and refer to my solo travels as “lonely,” I was instantly motivated to morph my feelings into words – not as a response to her message, but as a message to all women who have been denigrated for being independent. Her words bounced around my brain like a rogue ping pong ball… They didn’t hurt, sting, or maim me, but what if my skin was not as thick? I mourned for those who may not pursue travel because they didn’t have a significant other to journey with, for those who may not pursue travel due to fear of “loneliness.”
For the record, traveling alone does not “sound lonely.”
… Traveling alone sounds individualistic. It sounds bold. It sounds untrammeled. It sounds like unparalleled experiences. It sounds like new friends. It sounds like finding yourself and getting to know yourself in the purest form. Traveling alone sounds brave. It sounds revolutionary, especially as a woman. It sounds spirited. It sounds fun… And take it from me, it is all of these things.
Traveling alone sounds like a lot of things, but it definitely does not sound lonely. It does not sound lonely because it is NOT lonely. Sure, sometimes happiness is best when shared and some nights, you might crave a buddy to share a beer with around the fire, but it doesn’t mean we need someone to enjoy life. More importantly, one lonely night in a sea of non-lonely nights should not deter us from pursuing solo travel.
I want women to know that yes, I endure judgement about my choice to be alone and to do things alone, and you may too.
I want women to know that adventuring alone does not make you a loser and it does not indicate you are unlikeable.
And I want women to know that these judgements do not matter, and don’t let them matter.
Don’t put your life on the back burner because you don’t have someone to share it with. Don’t let someone’s uninformed opinions mold your plans. Don’t let a stranger provoke uncertainty in the things you enjoy most. Don’t let someone convince you the world is too scary, adventures are too unsafe, and being alone is too lonely.
When we let other people paint our picture, we lose power, we lose control, and we lose opportunities to create our own masterpieces. Shrug off the criticisms and take the brush into your own hands.
Solo travelers, you are not lonely; you just have a fire inside you that doesn’t need to, and doesn’t want to wait for another.
One more time for the back: you are not lonely because you are alone.
You are just too strong, too wild, and too inspired to obey society’s norms. But it’s ok, I am too.