This is when the nerves hit me. Standing in the check in queue at Heathrow, surrounded by business travellers, couples, and families. I’m all alone, and I’m the only one here alone. Alone in my aloneness. The point of this trip, after all, is that I am alone. It’s supposed to be good for me, in some way or another, to help me “figure things out”. My own foolish words. But now here I am with no plan figured out, heading off into the unknown with only myself to depend on. I’d intentionally put off doing almost any planning in order to avoid the fears that come hand in hand with this trip, so now they hit me all at once. I am completely on my own.
My hands are shaking and I feel a bit queasy. I’m trying to tell myself its because I’m hungry, but we all know that’s not true. I mentioned in last month’s round up post that I’m so scared about this trip it’s going to be February’s tick for my self-inflicted challenge to do one thing a month that terrifies me. But, I’ve been travel blogging for four years, full-time travelling for two, and I’ve taken plenty of trips solo in the past twelve months. So what am I so afraid of?
Well, for one thing, this will be my first backpacking trip solo. The longest I’ve been away for by myself previously was three weeks, and that was in Spain with a suitcase and included a week-long press trip with a group of other bloggers. With the exception of a few short trips within Europe, I’ve never really travelled solo. When I backpacked before, it was with my (now ex) boyfriend, so when things went wrong we faced them as a team. I may have been the one in charge of most planning, but I still had someone to rely on and depend on. I don’t deal well with the stress of things going wrong, or not knowing what to do – and I’m terrified to suddenly be completely reliant on no one but myself. It’s going to be good for me (I think) but it’s definitely going to be a struggle. Although in many ways I’m fiercely independent, in many others – especially emotionally – I’m a very dependant person (it’s one of my biggest flaws), and I’m also often shy and generally pretty fearful (my other biggest flaws). The idea of depending completely on myself and my own decisions for the next two months is a pretty scary one.
Speaking of decisions, that’s another thing that worries me. I hate them, even the little ones (should I have a second coffee, should I book the train at 11am or 1pm), and I’ll do anything to get out of making them myself. Even when I know exactly what I want to do, I’ll still try to run things past someone else so that when I make the decision it’ll seem like their’s. For some reason, I just have no confidence in my own ability to make a good decision. Or perhaps I just want a nice buffer for the blame in case things go wrong. All I know is that relying completely on myself for this trip is going to be really tough.
On the plane, goodbye messages fill me with regret, and as I leave the cold clear night of the UK behind me I leave with sorrow, fear, and uncertainty. But slowly, as we approach Abu Dhabi alongside a sunrise that’s first pastel perfect then suddenly spectacular, something replaces those feelings. Not excitement or anything like that, because this is still the most scared I’ve ever felt, but the feeling that I’m on the right path. Everything in my life has led me to this moment, as with every moment of every life, and now that I’m on this track it can only lead me to where I am supposed to go next. There are no wrong turns or wrong choices in life. I know that, because looking back at my life I can see that even the choices I regret wound up bringing me to exactly where I am and who I am today, and this is exactly who I’m supposed to be. I know that I’m afraid, and I also know that I’m going to be OK. Because I’m the strongest person I know, and because being brave isn’t the absence of fear, but continuing on despite it. And I will always continue on.
I’m in Thailand and Cambodia for the next two months, so don’t forget to follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see exactly what I get up to. First stop is Chiang Mai, and from there who knows – so if you have a great suggestion then get in touch.
Have you travelled solo before? Let me know your experiences and thoughts in the comments.