solo travel was the worst decision of my life
*How I managed the stress of judgement and being alone in a foreign country.
As I scrolled through the countless photos I’ve posted on Facebook, in an airport home at 4:33am wiping the lack of sleep off my eyes, my empty stomach churned with the remnants of that last chiliguaro shot. I thoughtfully reflected over the past 10 days of my first solo adventure in Costa Rica. And boy, let me tell you… it sucked.
In the span of 10 days, I’ve encountered a whole other world. I barely slept due to late nights with new friends and early mornings at the beach. I spent all my money on delicious food and heart racing excursions. The last time I washed my hair was in the ocean and the absolute worst of it all… was the people. I’ve made so many new friends.. that I grew accustomed to saying goodbye.
Looking past the negative positives, it wasn’t always sunshine and young people helping old people with their groceries. There were definitely points in which I’ve felt completely alone, unattractive and straight up dumb as hell. Albeit being such an advocate for carefree living, I’ve managed to pull most of my insecurities out of the box. “I feel so gross and ugly.” “How will I make friends here?” “Nobody likes me.”
I felt incredibly disheartened being away from my daily routine. Coming from an environment of loving and accepting friends, full access to self care and hygiene products and a swipe right away from a compliment (not that attention is important), I felt mentally dehydrated. The moment I was completely alone in a hostel (tip: always check reviews. Stay at the best hostels, good people tend to flock there), I felt just as lost as I did in the beginning of this year. Except, this was more of a survival kind of lost, not the existential type.
Well then.. what did I do?
Pulled myself the fuck together. I spent the day lounged out by the beach, reading about my handsome boy His Holiness the Dalai Llama (The Art of Happiness), which was actually pretty great. I wasn’t aware of how important alone time can be. Plus, it took only a matter of hours to be back in contact with real human beans. So, I pitied myself for feeling so inadequate. Coming to a foreign country filled with other solo travellers, what fears could I possibly harbour about judgement? I’ll likely never see any of these people again. What value do their opinions have to me? So, something as simple as pulling out my little journal turned this car right around. I grabbed a beer and sat at the bar alone to write my own advice:
“Everybody is facing their own internal struggle. I spend way too much time worrying about others and trying to get people to like me, that I’ve never fully taken the time to appreciate me for me. Sometimes I say weird shit I can’t help because my mind has decided to show this part of me. When it happens, embrace it. If someone chooses to judge me poorly for it they obviously aren’t the kind of people that deserve me in their lives. Organic. Life should be occurring naturally. Never forcefully. If I pull some Tyler love (pseudo name) and carry on forcibly shallow and meaningless conversation, eventually this transparent glass plane will break. And I’ll have had wasted my time investing into something that offers me no real joy, happiness or fulfillment. The right people will come into my life eventually. It will all be so fucking natural. Let life happen.”