The words “female” and “solo” are too overwhelming. Imagine being a woman and alone on the road. Nah, stereotypes! I met a lot of other women who are stronger and better travelers than me so I cannot say I am the best traveler, yet. I even met girls who can sleep on the streets when a hostel´s fully booked or can survive when the ATM machine swallowed their cards!
When I was young, I never thought I will choose this lifestyle nor knew there were people around the world living like this. Like nomads. Most of them (or us. I am including myself now) have not been home for a long time. We´re talking about years here, not just weeks or months. I am new to this kind of lifestyle. In Africa, my travel partner and I decided to separate just to breathe and be on our own — discover new things, gain new perspectives, meet other people and have different set of friends. At first, I was really not sure about this decision not because I am scared but I haven´t been alone traveling for quite some time now. I am fond of being with a travel partner. Flying was never a problem. I have taken flights on my own a lot of times. The only fear is landing. Taking a flight has this some kind of routine where all passengers aboard the plane do the same thing, not until they leave the airport of destination. The moment you pass through customs and immigration, you are on your own. There are no flight attendants to assist you nor a pilot to operate your route. So, what now?
The first few weeks are tough and it required a lot of hard work. I was always talking to friends from back home so as not to feel alone. I was basically living their lives as I was constantly updated through social media apps and was navigating my days in Philippine Time (PHT). I got tired of hugging myself and telling myself everything will be okay. Imagine talking to yourself… Wouldn´t it drive you nuts?
Pictures remind us we were once NOT sad, alone or angry. It brings us back to the moment when we were really happy. And when you remember the happy days, you cannot select what you just want to remember. Everything plays vividly in your mind. If there were already signs that you just chose to ignore or forced yourself not to hear it.
1. It´s okay to disconnect.
More often than not, particularly in the Filipino culture, being disconnected with friends and family is impossible. Yeah, we are tight like that! I started sleeping and waking up in Brazil time and it always ended up a fantastic day. If there´s a chance, I would always see to it that I reply to some friends who are constantly asking how I am and what have I been doing without forcing myself to stay online and wait for replies at 2:00 in the morning. However, it´s impossible to get off my mother´s radar. I am already an adult but a text message from her still alarms me like I was 14 and being warned with a curfew. I never wanted the close people in my life to worry so I have created a monthly newsletter where I will update them with what´s happening to me. Are you part of the team? Subscribe here and get personal (and unplublished) mails from me!
2. You will meet long time friend(s) on the road.
“You met me at a very strange time in my life,” quoting Fight Club, this is what I told Livia. Originally, I was only Couchsurfing with her for a few days but then I met her family and we all clicked. Considering they don´t speak English. What a connection! Now she invited me to stay over as long as I want. There are times I cannot really talk to her about personal feelings but in three weeks of being together, we are like sisters. The stars just aligned for us and the timing is good. The Universe was right: when someone leaves, someone will come. It´s all making sense now. Aside from Livia, I have Volker, Felix and Sebi (Germany), Andrea (Colombia), Fernando (Mexico) and Saulius (Lithuania) who were always there to check on me. I never imagined I could develop this kind of friendship with these people. I thought they were just surfing my couch and passing by.
“I get by with a little help from my friends. Doooo youuu neeeeeedd anybody?” — The Beatles
3. Let your heart feel whatever it is feeling.
Love always wins and it´s the language of the world. I have been illogical in the past because I always ignored my mind but now, I have a new trick: Whenever I miss people I am fond of being with, I just let my heart feel it but I use my mind to divert the energy to other channels, without controlling what I feel. The mantra is looking on the bright side: “Uhhhmmm, stop. You´re okay. Don´t let it ruin your fantastic day!” So far, it has always been effective.
“Everyday, I pray for the women that my brothers will love. The kind of woman who will leave them better people in the end.”
4. Animals are friends.
At a time of loneliness, even a butterfly randomly landing on your shoulders counts. In my case, I have Patchi (Livia´s dog) who is consistently sweet, loving and caring. I felt those three things from a dog and it is genuine. I only wish I fluently speak Portuguese because she can´t speak English. 🙂
“Animals and children tell the truth, they never lie. Which one is more human? There´s the thought now, you decide.” — Animal Song, Savage Garden
5. Time (alone) is gold.
When you are with a travel partner, both of you have to keep up with each other´s pace. I am not really like many other girls who spend so much time in the shower putting huge amount of beauty products on their faces however, I never wanted to be rushed. I now appreciate showering without someone knocking and saying “hurry up!”; I now value every cup of coffee after eating while reading a book; I can choose my pace when walking; I can organize my daily schedule without consulting someone about it. I even wake up early since I´ve turned my clock around! Not that I am being “emo” but for me, it´s a positive feeling
“There´s no need to rush. It´s like to learning to fly or falling inlove. It´s gonna happen when it´s suppose to happen and you´ll find the reasons why.” — One Step at a Time, Jordin Sparks
6. You are a beautiful person.
When you give this positive affirmation to yourself, other people will see you that way. I was never scared because I love myself and loving yourself means others will love you back. I never had troubles walking in dark streets or attracting bad people who will put me to harm. You might wonder, “aren´t I suppose to be ugly to be safe? So no one will dare come near me?” No. I am not talking about physique but what I am saying is feeling good and loving yourself in general. When you have that glow, you will stop attracting the negative vibe and it will keep you safe.
“You attract the person that you are.”
7. Change starts in you.
If you want the world to change, do it first. Don´t say, “why me? I´m a fully participating citizen of the world so I don´t have to do anything.” Eeennnkkk. Wrong. We are all guilty of complaining about what´s happening around the world, specially when you´ve seen a lot — poverty, hunger, access to education, clean drinking water, etc. What can you do? It´s definitely cliche to say “start with yourself” so I´ll put it this way: the world is a reflection of each individual so whatever the status quo is, it´s all because of us (you).
“If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make that change.” — Michael Jackson
8. You can never go wrong with kindness.
Quoting Tita Vicky from the Miss World Finals, I have understood the word “kind” in every sense of it. When you give, it will come back in three-folds. I have never participated in any gossip activities and chanelled my efforts to seeing the good in people I meet. The bad things might be overpowering the other but believe there is always something good and you will see it! Even just 5%. There are chances when you get tired of being kind because you keep encountering the bad ones, so see item #6. 🙂
“Be kind because everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle everyday.”
9. “Worry” is not a friend.
What if?… But… If… When you always worry, it leads your brain to that direction. It blocks the pathway of clarity you want to achieve. Have you tried solving something after worrying too much? No. The answer always comes when the worry goes away.
10. Aside from love, forgiveness is the greatest gift you will give yourself.
I did ask myself a lot of times, “why does it always have to be me?” “Why should I always be the understanding and the forgiving one?” And then one day, I learned that forgiveness is not just for the people who wronged you but more for yourself. Once you learn to forgive, the chest pains, the negative and heavy feeling will go away. It´s all for you.
“No matter what you do, no matter what they say, there´s a song inside that tune full of beautiful mistakes. And everywhere you go, the sun would always shine.” — Christina Aguilera
11. Happiness is free.
Like the balance between good and bad, “there is always a bright side.” Another cliche, but true. I used to just say it without believing, but now I am feeling it! If you want to be happy, you will be. If you choose to stuff yourself with negative feelings, you will achieve it.
“Don´t just say it. Believe it.”
12. ABG: Always be grateful.
I just come to realize that no matter how lonely I feel, I am very lucky because I am physically and mentally okay. I was never sick and it´s something I should be grateful for. I also learned how to be thankful of the little things: getting a call from a friend, blog readers who are maximum awesome, having a bed to sleep on at night and everything else. This life is fantastic!
“Our opportunity is to love ourselves exactly as we are — with all our joys and sufferings.
To be grateful for everything.
To forgive ourselves for our doubts of our own worthiness –
for we have no need to be anything other than what we are.”
– Jonathan Lockwood Huie
13. Alone is now a happy word.
Just like The Script´s “Breakeven” and Lana del Rey´s “Summertime Sadness,” alone is now a positive affirmation for me. If you are comfortable with the person you´re with when you´re alone, you will not feel the need to be with someone. I have accepted my true and genuine self (good and bad) throughout this journey. I was never bored being with the person I am. I can even go through a day without checking Facebook — one of the things so close to impossible when I was back home. Now I appreciate Kelly Clarkson more when she said “it doesn´t mean I´m lonely when I´m alone.”
“The best part of me was always me.” — twerked Breakeven, The Script
It´s okay if you sung the lines of the songs. I did too while writing this. Times when every song you hear relates to whatever you are going through. Now I am more than inspired to get up and see the world!
Are you also travelling alone? Let me know your insights!