I love the story of Alice in Wonderland. A girl falls through a whole following a rabbit, ends up in a magical land of wonders and funny creatures, on an unexpected but exciting adventure. This is about how I felt when I did my first trip on my own for a long time. I didn’t fall in a hole in the ground but I was in a place which was so very different that my usual playground.
The place I “dropped into” was Vietnam. Even though I have traveled quite a bit in South-East Asia I have to say there were a few moments I was doubting my decision to travel on my own there. Nonetheless this was a very useful and eye-opening experience. Here are the reasons why:
- Being alone forces you to actually think only for yourself
My every day life is full of all sorts of challenges: waking up on time (…not an early bird), killing it at work, time with friends, family and loved ones. Honestly I do not think I have even 10 min in which I can think what makes me happy or what I want to do. There is always something on the agenda, always someone to see and someone to talk to about whatever. There is a target for each day, some are personal others driven by work… Either way there is an endless list of To Dos.
Being alone forced me to actually reflect on my life, without worrying I am wasting time or I am late for one of the million things in my To Do list. It is very refreshing when you summarize your past and think when you were happy for the last time, what actually makes you happy and inspires you to build and grow in everything you want to do. It also made me think of whom are the people I want to surround myself with and who I want to be toward others. This might sound simple but I often dive into my routine and forget to stop, take a deep breath and reflect. The issue with being at home and surrounded by family or friends is that they always have an opinion and we often subconsciously start seeing ourselves through their eyes and their value system. Being away on my own just gave me that space to think and make choices which bring so much happiness and excitement that I just wake up with a smile every day now.
- Being far from your safe bubble makes you try new things and meet new people
I consider myself a fairly social person, and that is also what people say I am but it is different when you are out of your comfort zone. Being away from home and surrounded by people who do a completely different job or have a completely different drive in life is amazing. I met a lady who quit her corporate job to become a psychologist and totally turned her life around. The owner of the hotel I stayed in just came for 6 weeks on vacation in Mui Ne, three years ago, and just started a business there because he loved it. I met so many more interesting people who just went to this beautiful place to either find themselves, rest or just kite surf. I kind of did all of these, with kite surfing being my new gig that I lost a few square centimeters of skin for. Learning something new, meeting new people and being in an environment completely different from my safe and organized European base also reminded me what I have and made me feel happy that I have the opportunity to go on these adventures and do these wondrous things.
- Power Up
I do not know if it’s me or the lack of a proper vacation for a long long time but I feel energized and inspired. I don’t think it is from any extra sleep (the jet-lag did not leave me for the whole trip) but it was rather the freedom I had to choose whatever I wanted to do, whenever I wanted to do it and with whoever I wanted. If I wanted to sleep late I could, if I wanted to go surfing I could, if I wanted to have dinner on my own I could, and all that without thinking of entertaining or compromising for other people. This might sound silly but it has always been a struggle for me to prioritize myself over others so being on my own just gave me that freedom to choose without being worried I will displease anyone. I feel very happy and energized, full of new ideas and possible new directions. I am grateful that I could do this and find a new passion.
With respect to my reference to Alice, I feel indeed that I followed a rabbit down the whole to self reflection and freedom. In today’s world we are bombarded with information, with images of who we are supposed to be but being on our own in a new place, wondering around and finding magic in every sunrise and every sunset, this is something we all need to do once in a while. To make sure the dreamer in us is still alive and is still looking for the next flying pig to catch a ride on. Till then keep dreaming and keep chasing sunsets, I know I will because there are no limits to human ingenuity.