A few months ago I brought in my 35th birthday on my first solo international trip! Going solo wasn’t my original plan, but I asked over 10 people and things just weren’t working out, so I went ahead & booked the trip. Some people were nervous & wondering how I got to this point. (My nervousness hit hard once the plane pulled back from the walkway at LAX, and I realized I didn’t even know who to look for at my destination airport.) But I got here because smaller yeses eventually lead to bigger yeses. I was 19 or 20 when I decided I didn’t want to wait on people anymore before I could see a movie, so I went by myself. If there was a restaurant I wanted to try, I showed up as a party of 1 & ate some good food. Then attended a concert solo for the first time 4 years ago & had an amazing time for 5 hours with the complete stranger next to me in line. I was scared, but it was so cool how God met me there through this person! Then had a little solo Santa Barbara trip 3 years ago. Seeing the pattern? I missed out on a trip to Greece 7 years ago because I didn’t know anyone in the group going, and promised myself the next time an opportunity like that came around, I would stop caring what people might think of me & just go.
These last almost 2 years have been a time of solitude for me during the pandemic, and I’ve had to do even more things by myself. There are times I’m so grateful for it, and there are times I’m completed frustrated. But as I was reminded recently, solitude is a time of development; alone is not the same as loneliness, and we should see times of being alone with God as being made “ALl ONE.”
Life is too short, and the world is too big and too beautiful to keep waiting on people in order to live! Yes, fear is real, and fear is needed & important. But there’s a type of fear that hinders and limits us, and a type of fear that reminds us to be cautious, but still pushes us towards courage. I recommend learning the difference, and paying attention to the words and behavior of those around you. Do they pull you back, or do they propel you? I fear a whole lot of things, and rejection and failure are very real and painful. But I don’t let it hold me back, and I’ve learned the art of feeling my feelings, then pivoting, when things don’t go as hoped for.
If you know me, you know I’m a planner, and never make large decisions lightly. I will research the heck outta something & pray for red & green flags, but when I finally decide to move forward, it can look fast to those who don’t know my process. So, in prepping for this trip, I joined a Facebook solo travel group and learned from people’s experiences, booked the trip through a travel company, read many solo traveling blogs, ordered a bunch of safety/security things that were recommended for women traveling alone, signed up & interviewed for Global Entry with Homeland Security, gave my phone company & banks a heads up so I wouldn’t be locked out, gave my family my daily travel itinerary (then sent them a picture of my tour guide when I met him), overpacked for just in case scenarios (I stopped packing light a long time ago – lesson learned), then flew to Costa Rica where a complete stranger was waiting at the airport for me with a sign.
This trip was beautiful! I met some amazing people, including a group of oncology nurses from Emory hospital in Atlanta who had kids my age and took me under their wings when they found out I was there by myself. I’m so grateful & couldn’t have asked for a better way to start my dolce far niente/semi-sabbatical year!
There is beauty on the other side of embracing fear and not allowing it to stop us from experiencing a full/filling life! Pura vida!