I will not be the first—nor the last—to observe that solo travel can incite quite the slew of inner monologues. Because there is no one with you to witness the group of swans near a pond or that the hills at the end of the road look lovely covered in fog or that the couple across the street looks like they’re about to break up, you must inwardly comment on them and have that be enough. And it is. But it sometimes feels a little like you’re going crazy.
Physically, I’ve been fairly busy walking, hiking, doing yoga, running to the bay (and walking back because I went too far and got tired). Mentally, my mind has done more marathons of meditating, ideating, yelling at myself, building myself up, calming myself down in the past three weeks than probably the entirety of my life.
This inner monologue is also my worst and most cruel critic. As soon as I begin to doubt myself—Was it a right or left on this street? Is this the bus going south? Which person do I hand my resume to? Maybe I’ll just come back later. Oh god, was it too warm to wear a beanie?—I must squash it down with a more courageous version of what I’m feeling and continue to move forward.
You know when you’re blowing up an air mattress and get to the fullest possible amount so that it feels like the material might pop and you rush to put the cap on before you lose too much of the puffiness? Yeah, I’m gonna go ahead and use that as a metaphor for my confidence, which has seen a wide range of Snow Patrol lows and Rachel Platten Fight Song highs recently (what other songs does she even have??).
But! I don’t think that’s a bad thing. And while simultaneously learning to be alone, I’ve also found a tremendous sense of belonging: In hiking with a group of beautiful people in Wicklow county. In a yoga studio where they already know my name. In places I now recognize, landmarks I like going past, and running into people I know.
And upon seeing a lone flyer in a cafe bathroom, joining A REAL, MODERN DAY CHOIR in a stroke of sheer serendipity. This has proven to be the best decision of 2016 thus far.