Hi hi hi hi 🙂
I just got back from my first solo trip ever. I’ve traveled a lot in my short 25 years of life, but I’ve never taken a trip just by myself, with no one to meet up with or travel with. I bought a plane ticket to Chicago a few months ago because 1. I love Chicago. My favorite trip I’ve ever taken with my family was to Chicago when I was in high school, it was around Christmas time and it was so impromptu. I think that is why I liked it so much, my family is so calculated and we always have so many plans, but our trip to Chicago was so last minute and uncharacteristic. And 2.) Southwest was having a flight sale and I couldn’t resist.
I’ve found that there are very few things in life that make me feel alive, and traveling is one of them. It purifies me and makes me feel like I have energy. Part of my self-care regime is to take at least one trip a month, even if it is just a weekend trip to Austin or Dallas. Sometimes it just feels good to get out of town. So I booked this trip to Chicago for the long weekend in hopes that a friend would be able to come with me, and no one ever could. Lots of people are strapped for cash after the holidays, and instead of using that as an excuse as to why I couldn’t go, I went anyway.
Sometimes my anxiety keeps me from doing things I really want to do, but this time around I was bound and determined to have a good time all by myself. As I mentioned in my last post, I’m an introvert. So doing things alone comes quite naturally to me, but I also have social anxiety. Which complicates things a bit, but this time around it wasn’t enough to keep me from making the most of my trip. Before I left, I made a list of a few things I definitely wanted to do and I made sure I completed them while I was there. I intentionally didn’t have an itinerary, I wanted it to be a spontaneous trip.
Looking back on the trip, I’ve realized that I don’t have to have someone to share all of my experiences with to make things seem worthwhile. I had a great time in Chicago, and if anything I didn’t have to compromise things I wanted to do for other people. I wasn’t in any hurry and I didn’t feel like I had to have a plan, which is new for me. I usually have the days planned out for what we want to do when I take trips with friends. And for once, I felt that my experience was uniquely my own. It was a completely original experience and there is something very special about having positive memories only you know about.
It also opened up my mind and allowed me to think a lot. Sometimes I hate doing things by myself because it makes me think about things I don’t necessarily want to think about, but this trip allowed me to reflect in a helpful way. At one point in my trip, I was walking back to my Airbnb from a dive bar/pizza joint. It was nighttime, the sidewalk was slick with ice and as I strolled through the neighborhood I began to cry. Those of you that know me, know that I rarely cry. Especially in public. But I began to cry because I realized how different the place I am in right now is from the place I was in this time last year.
I was trying to love someone who wasn’t able to love me back for her own reasons, and trying to save something that I knew wasn’t able to be saved. I wouldn’t give up on our relationship because it meant so much to me, but in doing this I was only hurting myself. I was trying so hard to love this person that I didn’t have room or time to love myself, and right now I am pretty much in the opposite place. Of course there is still progress to be made and things that I am working to change in my life, but I am so much happier and balanced right now than I was then. I love myself. I wasn’t able to say that about myself this time last year. That is pretty powerful.
One of my other favorite parts of traveling to new places or unfamiliar places at least is being able to explore and discover things you wouldn’t necessarily see if you were doing the tourist type activities. One of my favorite things is to find an arts district or an area with a lot of street art. Street art is selfless. The purpose of it is to express feelings and discovering it is almost like finding out a secret. It feels like the artist put it there just for you to find. If you’re in Chicago, go to the Wabash Arts Corridor in downtown. Walk around, smile, and think.
Also go see an improv show at Second City. I don’t recall ever laughing as hard as I did when I saw one of their shows this weekend. Laughing by myself in a room full of strangers. Feeling free.
If you’ve never considered traveling solo, you should. It can definitely be awkward at times and you can sometimes feel isolated or alienated, but it is important. It is important to take time to yourself to reflect on growth and experience new places. I’ve already planned my second solo trip of the year for March, and I’m excited to see what clarity that trip brings.
Stay groovy my friends. Much love.