I’d made my first proper friend since leaving the UK, and now that they were gone I felt much more alone than I had at the start of my trip a couple of weeks ago. We had plans to meet up again, but I was left with a feeling of loneliness that was far more complete than during my initial days of exhilarating isolation.
The thought of a journey with no end date that had brought me so much joy when I set foot on the beach in Miami, now left me feeling empty and lost. Having no fixed plans and total freedom to follow my heart wherever it took me had been the best feeling in the world. I would never have to compromise my desires for anyone else’s, and the future was a beautiful mystery.
Now I was a little way into my amazing adventure, alone for the first time in several days, the dark side of this freedom began to sink in. Expansive anticipation was replaced by a crushing sadness, and the weeks ahead that had been so full of promise now seemed bleak and daunting.
The thought of calling anyone back home, or socializing with fellow travellers, didn’t appeal to me at all. Despite not wanting to feel so alone, part of me knew it was exactly what I needed. La Sabana park in San Jose was the perfect place for some quiet contemplation.
I took out my note book, and as I sat at the picnic table trying to write, I felt the steadiness of the nearby rocks calm me down. The soothing green lake gently eased my mind, and I started to feel some inner peace trickle through the gaps in my worried thoughts.
I always spend a lot of time by myself, and am content with my own company. However, being so far from home for an unknown amount of time, and no real plan, left me feeling a deep loneliness that I’d not experienced before. But as I walked around the hazy green park, I began to appreciate the gift of this opportunity to confront one of my biggest fears.
The stillness of the water helped me to find a little stillness in my mind. From this place I realized I had a choice in how to respond. I could let my loneliness upset me, or search for a distraction. Or I could face the feeling, and deal with it in a calm and rational manner.
It is perfectly natural to be afraid of isolation. As humans we need each other to survive. The fear of being alone is a very primal one, but at this time my survival did not depend on having friends or family around me. I had only been away a couple of weeks, and had already made at least one friend that I knew I would stay in touch with. I had been away for long periods of time before, and my family and friends at home always welcomed me back with open arms. I was in no immediate danger of becoming isolated in any way that would be detrimental to my life.
The intense feeling of being alone was very real, but the worries were not. After realizing this, I was slowly able to release these worrying thoughts. I focused on soaking up the magic of this idyllic haven as I continued my walk around the lake.
My fears gradually dropped away, and I was left with the same sense of being completely alone, but now I perceived it differently. Instead of fear, the feeling gave me peace. The aloneness was an opportunity to experience a deeper part of myself that had been afraid for so long. In accepting this part of myself, I felt more whole, which brought me a feeling of blissful solitude that I hadn’t experienced for a very long time.
Knowing you can feel content without anything external to ground you is an empowering realization. You feel an unshakeable peace that stays with you wherever you go. It is so much easier to make friends and be sociable when you’re perfectly happy being alone.
Every time I travel solo, I come back with a little more inner peace. It’s a wonderful thing to know that we are capable of creating our own happiness from within. We can use this happiness to bring joy to others, or enjoy it all by ourselves. It is ours to do whatever we want with.
This wasn’t the end of my struggles with loneliness on my solo travels, but it was an important moment that I wanted to share. Remembering how I felt at this time, and how I overcame it, helps me reconnect to this feeling of peace with being alone. Another thing that helps me is knowing that millions of people all over the world experience similar feelings. If you are able to, I would love for you to share your experiences in the comments below. We are never really alone.