I sat by myself in a Galway pub last week, enjoying my good meal and my Guinness. That triggered a memory of my life 15 or so years ago. At that time, traveling alone or eating at a restaurant alone filled me with dread. The idea that I could enjoy traveling alone was unthinkable.
So much has changed since then! I love traveling alone these days. It totally relaxes me and there is so much to see and savor. When I can go quiet inside and start observing my surroundings, I start discovering wondrous sights and having great encounters. Whenever I’m with someone else, my focus is partly on them. I can miss out on a lot of what is happening around me.
So what has caused this fundamental change in my perception?
I used to think of myself as complete only if I could define myself in relationship to others. The wife/lover of… the mother/daughter of… the employee/manager of… Today I am enough, in relationship with myself.
I used to be obsessed with what others thought of me when they saw me alone. I would feel uncomfortably self-conscious. If I had to eat alone in a restaurant, I’d take along a book so that I didn’t have to look at other people, they might look back! Today, I don’t particularly care what other people think of me. If I do make eye contact with someone, I give them a friendly smile. Unless the situation looks potentially dangerous and then I calmly get up and leave.
I used to get caught up in an overwhelming need to share everything I experienced, immediately, with whomever happened to be there to share it with. Now I still often want to share things. I always have a camera and a small notebook on hand. I take pictures, make drawings, jot down stories. Later I decide who I want to share it with. I choose people whom I feel can appreciate my feelings about the event.
Are you able to enjoy traveling alone?