If I had to give any piece of advice to anyone, it would be this:
Go. Get up off the sidelines. Don’t wait until you find a friend or a boyfriend or a husband. Don’t wish you had someone to share moments with, because those moments will fizzle out by the time you find someone else. Enjoy them, even if you’re enjoying them alone. The simple and profound things in life don’t ask us to gather a posse; they come into life like magic and they leave like it, too. There’s no time to be ready. In fact, I think it’s better if we’re not.
This continues to be one of the hardest lessons for me to learn, especially now that I moved out on my own. I’ve been walking this territory of loneliness for quite some time, and I’ve actually written about it before. And I know we’ve all been there at some point; maybe we’re not all lonely, but we’ve all been at the crossroads of adventure and courage to do it alone. This is what I mean….
When I was in high school, I made a Bucket List of all the things I wanted to do before I kicked it. The list mainly consisted of travel, as my personal opinion is that you can’t leave this world without seeing it first. And I have been blessed with a life and a spirit that has always pushed me in the direction of my dreams. I moved to the States when I was fairly young, and I came from circumstances that were far from pleasant, but I also came from a family who stoked this inner adventurous fire and an itch to experience the free things in life.
So, from the time I could, I went and I did. I studied abroad in Tunisia and woke up every morning to the sound of the Muslim prayer being sung via the loudspeaker in the city square. I rode a camel named Ali Baba to a tent in the Sahara Desert, where I slept and almost froze my ass off that night. I butchered my way through Arabic, and through many other languages after that trip. I traveled to South America after seeing a picture of Macchu Picchu and swearing to God and my neighbor that I would see this majestic place one day. I battled altitude in Cusco and slept on a train to the Valley, where I came across a bend to see Macchu Picchu sitting in all Her glory, and I had tears in my eyes because it was still, to this day, the most beautiful sight I’d seen. I shared a hostel somewhere in Peru and sand-boarded to my heart’s delight, and I slept at the Lima airport like a hobo because I had finally blown all of my cash for the trip. I took a trip to Mexico with my brother for our first – and definitely not last – sibling-only adventure, where I saw my life flash before me 35 feet under water in scuba gear I still don’t know how to properly use. I spontaneously joined a girl’s weekend trip to Miami where we chased chickens and drank from coconuts in Key West, and I had enough laughter under my belt that weekend to recharge my batteries for the next few months. I planned a road trip with a dear friend – who pretty much drove the entire time (sorry and thank you!), and to date, it’s one of my favorite vacations in the States. You can’t pass any foggy day in San Francisco or any stupid idea of a climb at the Grand Canyon so that your legs can flail off a cliff or any piss-drunk night on the Vegas strip before your early-ass flight home the next day – but you also never regret coming home in the middle of the night with a sombrero and a guitar. And I recently discovered the pure and genuine joy of renting a bike at Venice Beach and riding along the coast until your ass is sore.
These are simple things. Simple treasures, where I bought a ticket and found a friend, and off we were. And should my life end tonight, God knows I don’t regret a single moment of it. I’ve made it magical, and the world has helped, with its infinite beauty and wisdom.
But what I’ve also learned is that sometimes, we’re alone. Sometimes, we don’t have a friend or a special someone with whom to share the moments that light us up. And for a really long time, I’ve skipped over ideas on my Bucket List out of sheer fact that I didn’t have anyone with whom to go. And I would catch myself on nights where it was just me, wondering if I was missing out on life, out there, waiting for me to enjoy it while I still could. And those kinds of thoughts made me feel even more alone, because I was on the sidelines, sitting and watching this unfolding of life without me in it.
But – where there is a negative thought, there is a positive one, too. After all, we give birth to both. If you’re in this dilemma, too, I say go. Don’t wait for someone else. I waited until I started to realize that I was the one I’ve been waiting for. Go! Go see the world. I hear it’s beautiful. I hear it’s everything we need to remind us of what and where home is. I hear it heals. And maybe it doesn’t even have to be an adventure too far from your place of comfort. Maybe it’s in the simple things that you find your own fulfillment – like going to a class alone or joining a nighttime hike with perfect strangers so that you can look for constellations in the sky.
I promise you that being alone and doing things alone is not awkward or weird or looked down upon. It’s brave. It’s therapeutic. I think so many of us just sit by and like videos on Facebook about the top ten destinations in the world without ever leaving our screens to enjoy the life that’s right outside, and I think so much of the fear in that is how do we embrace life if we’re embracing it alone? And I know that fear! I used to make plans and write out itineraries for myself, only to crumple the papers because I couldn’t find someone to come with me. I used to watch couples I knew and saw and think how easy and wonderful it must be to share the world’s beauty with someone in whom we also saw that same beauty. And those thoughts bred more fear, until I found myself in a space with every opportunity and absolutely no desire to act on that opportunity, because it would mean I would be acting alone.
But please, get this – being alone in this moment right now is a gift we need to be patient with. Someone once told me that being alone means that we’ve somehow gotten too far from ourselves, and that the Universe politely pushes others out of the way so that we don’t use them as crutches when it’s US who need attention and help first. I can’t think of a better gift to give ones hurting Self than the gift of doing. Don’t sit by as your life happens. Don’t wait for the perfect friend or significant other, so that you’re not sitting on the plane alone. Embrace everything that your world has to offer, and I promise you that in that time, people will come into your life out of sheer magic that we’re truly never alone. And we’ll never question it again.