The World & I - A Solo Female Travelers Perspective.
When I boarded my flight to India alone I was nervous. Filled with a mix of emotions. Scared. Anxious. Excited. Exhilarated. To name just a few. I had no idea what to expect or what I was about to experience. I was completely unaware of what a transforming experience lay ahead. Going travelling for me, as like many people my age, is a privilege but a privilege that seems to be the norm, the fact that I was going alone was the strange part, I didn’t know many girls that had just packed their life into a ruck stack and gone off on a wanderlusting pilgrimage. The next few months literally changed my life forever and I couldn’t be more grateful.
The first thing that happens when you travel solo is you get comfortable. Really comfortable, really quickly with yourself. There is literally just you, no one else but you. This is precious time. You can sit alone. Eat alone. Move alone. Be alone. Much of my life before being a solo traveler had been filled with distractions but when alone in an unfamiliar country there is no option but to get to know yourself. I started to learn who I was away from all of my friends, social media, hobbies and city nonsense, I started to learn who I am in my true most natural essence. Can you honestly say that your thoughts and beliefs are your own? Or are they a fabrication of your friends and family's thoughts along with the opinions of the media you expose yourself too?
One of the things I loved about being alone was how I started to learn what I liked. Away from the brainwashing I had been induced to I realised that I actually loved walking, I loved reading, I loved creating. I even found out that I loved figs. What do you love? Finding out what I loved was also coupled with finding out what I didn’t like. Turns out I really don’t like small talk, I really dislike pushy people, I don’t like meat and I really don’t like social media. But I had no idea about this before, I was just trudging along living in a bubble manufactured for me by society.
When I think about it, it’s a blessing within itself that I started learning. Being away and having no other interaction to be intertwined within, other than the one between the world and I, I started learning. There's such a wealth of wisdom and knowledge out there that I would never had interacted with had I been wrapped up in relationships and friendships alike.
I was free. Free to do what I liked, when I liked. I could go where I wanted, when I wanted. I am not saying that I was ever trapped but there is something so refreshing and so empowering about waking up in a morning and deciding to go with your own flow without having to consult with someone else.
I absolutely loved how for the first time in my life I was experiencing different cultures alone, every single person experiences culture differently. We are all different, countries cultures will resonate differently with everyone, to me that is a romantic thought. I was figuring out what these new cultures felt like and meant to me. No one else, me.
In my privileged, extremely sheltered life, women are rising. When I was away I realised that this is not the case everywhere in the world. It was amazing to experience the culture surrounding feminism in different countries whilst being a female solo traveler. It gave me real perspective. I had previously wallowed in self pity regarding being a woman who hadn't been given equal rights but when I was in the East and I saw first hand the disparity between men and women there I realised how far behind the West, their cultures were. I'd been given and education that had allowed me to earn money to come away and travel – I was very lucky.
Amidst all the culture shock, learning and temperature changes I experienced something I had never been exposed to before. I learnt how to look after myself. Until going away I had been blissfully unaware of how to properly look after myself outside of my comfort zone. My family had projected their worries about my lack of street smarts onto me before I set off but I reveled in the challenge. I had to keep myself safe and make sure all of my human needs were met at all times, once again it was refreshing and empowering. I dare you to try it.
Finally being a solo traveller gave me the time and space to deliberate and realise what being a woman means to me. Have you ever spent time alone with yourself to think about that? I urge you to do so, it is fascinating.