“When a woman becomes her own best friend, life is easier.”
Diane Von Furstenberg
So a funny thing happened. I’m walking round Melbourne CBD with my headphones on, blasting some tunes the way I usually do on my last night in a city I’ve loved – I like exploring cities alone at night and never feel afraid with my own little soundtrack playing as I go – when I realised the place was full of couples, and I mean FULL.
They were everywhere.
And – no ill feeling towards these Sunday evening couples – it kind of started to ruin my solitary walk because I suddenly became aware of all these people around me and the reality of just how alone I am (on the other side of the world, might I add) was all too prominent. I took a seat on a bench on the Southbank overlooking the River Yarra and began to think about it, and I was just getting into that horrible spiralling headspace where, you know, you start imagining that it’s entirely possible that you’re going to die alone, face eaten by the throng of overweight cats you’ve been adopting over the years, when I gave myself a much needed reality check.
Yes, I am alone. But I am not lonely. Not really.
It’s been coming for some time, this momentary fear of being “alone.” It’s been lurking in the peripheries like the dull thud of a hangover. Maybe it’s because of the impending thirtydom? Maybe I hit my head one too many times getting out of the mini bus on my recent Uluru tour? I sent a friend in England a message, an SOS, because I needed to hear from someone who loves me and, as hoped for, a message pinged back from her almost instantly. I could have cried right there on the spot with the relief of it.
But why do we need this reassurance that we are loved, missed, needed, wanted?
Why do we need to know that someone somewhere is thinking about us?
Well I guess as human beings we aren’t really designed to be alone, are we? We’re co-dependent, sociable creatures so being by ourselves, and feeling overwhelmed by this isolation, is difficult for most of us to handle. Even the most introverted of people need a bit of loving every now and again.
But I think it’s a good thing, to be alone. I’d even go so far as to say I think it’s important that we take the time out of our lives to be by ourselves, whether it be an hour at the gym, a bike ride, a weekend shut away at home watching back to back episodes of Game of Thrones (or whatever floats your boat), to do something creative, or – in my case – a solo trip abroad.
At the risk of sounding cheesy, I think it is imperative that we take this time out of our busy, over-crowded lives to “be with ourselves” – to take time to figure out how we think, what we feel, what we enjoy, what we’d like to change, what we’ve learned, and not be influenced by the opinions of others.
Sure it can sometimes be daunting eating dinner or having a glass of wine (when I really want the bottle) by myself but it’s also strangely liberating. And yeah, it can be annoying to have to take all your bags to the toilet as there’s no one to watch them, or have to ask the bewildered stranger to take photographs of you posing next to some landmark or other.
But this is the price you pay for the absolute freedom of going it alone.
So I’ve come to the conclusion that while I am not dating anyone else, and don’t see myself doing so anytime soon, I’ll date myself. We’ll go for dinner, to the cinema, for drinks. We’ll explore cities, go on trips and hang out. We’ll ask strangers to take photos of us, excited and smiling.
Because the greatest thing about where my life is right now is its very relaxed and uncomplicated. I’m just hanging out, exploring, being myself and doing my own thing.
And, while I’m not going to sit here and pretend that it wouldn’t be nice to share this experience with someone, we’ll probably have the best time ever, Me, Myself and I.
How do you feel about solo travel? Are you too scared to go it alone?
Are you a seasoned solo traveller with fail-proof advice on how to solo travel?
Do you find it difficult to travel as a single woman/man or do you thrive of the “alone” time?