It’s been a while since I had an insight and shared a life lesson. I usually have to be solo travelling and completely on my own to get hit with some inspiration and something that I want to share. This time, it’s being with other people that has given me a deeper understanding of solo travel and why I do it.
I hope that this month’s insight helps you too…
Hiding Behind The Mask
Being back in the UK and unable to live the carefree nomadic life that I was living has made me fall back into society and others’ expectations. Walking around the streets of my hometown with a mask, I’m being pushed back into society. One where I have to wear a mask and conform.
Being here in the lockdown, I have tried hard to fit back into society and it’s created so much inner conflict. I don’t feel myself and maybe no one really does at the moment, but I had the feeling that this wasn’t just about the current situation. It wasn’t until recently, as I put on my mask to walk into a shop that I had a realisation. I was hiding behind the mask…
My way of life, my belief system, my values and what I stood for, seemed to have disappeared, and I had slipped back into an old version of me. One that I had tried so hard to break away from. But she doesn’t exist anymore.
I was trying to fit into somewhere that I no longer belonged. To old rules, to old ways of thinking and a stereotype of how society expects you to live: house, husband, children, pension. That’s not who I am.
I always felt as though I had more to give, more to experience in life, more to learn to be a better version of myself. And solo travel has definitely enriched my life in so many ways. Travel has given me my core beliefs. The number one being freedom. Freedom to travel, freedom to be ourselves and freedom to live a life that is only meant for us.
I have never listened to how others think I should live my life. If I had, I would never have had the enriching life that I have lead. I would have listened to them when they said I couldn’t travel around Australia by myself, when I was the oldest student in my class at university because I decided I was finally ready to pursue my dream to be a journalist at the age of 29 when I hadn’t had the confidence to do it before.
I would never have bungee jumped, snorkelled with whale sharks or danced with tribes. I wouldn’t have left the UK on a one-way ticket to Latin America and have fallen in love with Colombia and made it a former home. I wouldn’t have pursued my dream to be a digital nomad and have lived in so many places around the world. And, I would never have poured so many hours into my blog which started out as a passion to be able to make a living from it and inspire others to travel the world alone.
At the age of 19, I chose not to ‘exist.’ I wanted to live a life full of adventure and experience and be able to think for myself. I listened to other people’s regrets in life and I swore to myself that that would never be me. I wanted to aim for the stars and if I hit the moon then I would have succeeded, and have no regrets along the way.
But I forgot who I am. I have outgrown the society that I was brought up in. I may not be able to live my carefree life as I was once able to, but I don’t have to hide my values and belief system to fit in.
When I travel I meet people like me, that have an open view of the world, are culturally sensitive and who don’t live their lives conforming to society because they feel they should. It took a lot of courage for me to forge my own path, especially after I became divorced when others couldn’t understand why I didn’t want to settle down. Instead, I felt as though my life was happening without me and I was on a mission to find it.
But living your truth is uncomfortable. Stepping into the authentic version of you isn’t easy. To go one way when everyone else is going the other takes courage and guts.
You come up against adversity and others not understanding you or thinking that you’re selfish or crazy for a difference of opinion or for wanting to live your life a different way. But if we only remember this lifetime, why not live it the way that we want? No one else can walk in our shoes, only us and we shouldn’t have to apologise for choosing a different path to the majority.
I travel solo to free myself from others’ expectations, from their judgements, their fear that they project onto me. But I had forgotten who I was. I think differently from the majority, I’m not content with just living a life that society expects me to live and the courage that I get from travelling alone should give me the bravery to stand up for my beliefs.
Viktor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor who wrote the inspiring book Man’s Search For Meaning, said “The last of human freedoms is the ability to choose one's own attitude.”
Choose your attitude and be true to your authentic self. Make decisions that are right for you and if you don’t fit into society, know that it’s okay. Go for your dreams, start that business, and step away from judgement from others and relationships that no longer serve you. If people really care about you they would support you no matter what, even if they don’t understand it. Don’t allow others’ judgement of you to be the story that you tell yourself, and most of all, don’t settle for a life that isn’t true to you.
The world needs you being your authentic self right now. Yes, we may have to wear a mask because of the current situation but don’t allow that mask to hide who you really are…
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