A Traveler’s Loneliness and What to Do About It
You know you’re starting out your, ‘new year, new me’ cliché-but-oddly-true-path when prior to midnight on New Year’s Eve you actually realize you have never been so alone in your life. The 1.5 million people celebrating around you somehow made no difference at all either. The only thing I was concentrated on was why on earth had I made a decision to move to a country I knew absolutely nothing about (except that they had enormous spiders and kangaroos)?
Never in my life have I felt particularly ‘lonely’. Most of my friends have always had a boyfriend or girlfriend throughout the university, but it never made me feel lonely or that I needed to find someone too. Instead, I just used that time to try to accomplish goals and dreams for myself.
Since deciding to pack my things and move to Australia after finishing undergrad, I was more concentrated on the adventure I was going to have rather than the lack of comfort being surrounded by close friends and family. I didn’t know anyone here. I didn’t even know what I was going to do for sure. I just knew that I had wanted to do it for some time and that I’d go along with it.
That NYE night, however, I finally understood the perspectives that my friends and family had when I told them I was going to Australia. They were asking questions such as, “what are you going to do there?” and, “who do you know”? I didn’t know any of that. And it hit hard when I realized that, at a time that couldn’t have been more appropriate than New Years.
It was a completely new feeling and I had no idea how to deal with it. The weather in Sydney wasn’t particularly helpful either because it poured for 3 days straight during this weird and awkward realization period. I didn’t know what to do. I felt completely alone because I didn’t know a single soul minus the occasional small talk with the cafe owner near my hostel. On top of that, I was very homesick from being so far away (on the other side of the world to be exact).
I figured out that I needed to figure out how to get passed this. This whole feeling alone thing wasn’t working for me for that long. If life throws a weird curve ball at me (even a little one); it is merely an obstacle to overcome.
New experiences are not necessarily bad experiences; we are always growing and learning, no matter the age. Treating those experiences with an open and a positive mind is the great route that really makes a beneficial difference.
Here are some ways that I learned to deal with loneliness in a positive way:
1. I realized it wasn’t such a bad thing– the word loneliness get’s a negative stigma but it doesn’t always have to be that way. Even though I realized that I was lonely after being here I knew that I could use it to my advantage. After a couple days of moping around (mainly because the weather wasn’t so great) I decided to go outside each day and get some fresh air and walk to a new place I haven’t been to before. My thoughts just said, “this too shall pass.”
2. I acknowledged my thoughts more deeply– this could be a good or a bad thing. Overthinking isn’t always the best route, however, I found that I had a lot of time to think and it allowed me to concentrate on the important things while being reflective about, well, everything. I was able to make decisions faster and better.
3. I wrote– Writing and reading for me is a way to get away from my thoughts if they become a bit negative or overwhelming. And yes- positive people aren’t always positive but that doesn’t mean that we can’t find a way! Writing is a great way to clear your head a bit.
4. I started talking to people– I’m usually not too shy of a person but sometimes I take the time to warm up to people. When you travel you kind of have to step out of your comfort zone and just talk to people- especially if you’re alone. I was staying at a hostel which helps because it’s mostly people my age all on a similar route to finding a job, exploring, or both. Chances are that you’ll end up in a conversation with someone no matter who started it. If you listen carefully you’ll notice that everyone has a story of their own worth noting.
5. I explored– this is the best part about traveling! Whether you have a map or not just get out and explore, go see the places you’ve dreamed of and get lost in the hidden pathways, you’ll never know what treasures you may find. Exploring also makes you more confident and you are able to forget about being lonely!
So yes being lonely gets a bad rep, but it doesn’t have to be that way. It enables us to find ourselves and understand ourselves a bit more deeply, whether we want to or not. If we choose to come out of that shell and look at it a bit differently then we can slowly push the negative part of being lonely out.
This happened a month ago. Since then I have met loads of people, explored parts of the city that aren’t part of the guidebook, took a road trip with five friends (who at the time were complete strangers), and now I’m on a tour in Tasmania with 18 wonderful people. And this is only the beginning. There are many more adventures are in store.
So yes, I was lonely my first couple of weeks and more homesick than I have been before, but at the end of the day, the dreams we are willing to go for will likely consist of obstacles. If we can learn how to get through these obstacles in a positive way, well, then we can achieve just about anything.