12 Days of Being Alone
My solo trip to Croatia
The past 12 days have been equal parts tough and equal parts incredible. I traveled through 4 cities in Croatia, from north to south, starting in Zagreb and Plitvicka then making my way down to Split, Hvar, and ending in Dubrovnik. In between, I did quick trips to other small surrounding islands of Croatia and a day trip to Mostar in Bosnia. And because talking to yourself in public is considered socially unacceptable in all cultures, I journaled constantly instead.
This post isn’t really about what I saw in Croatia or how incredible its people are. If you’d like to know or see more pictures, please ask me about it next time we see eachother and I would love to show you.
This is a lot about me. Hopefully not in a narcissistic way — just in the way that I’m completely transparent about my own interior dialogue while trying to figure out who I am and where I stand. So without further ado, here is an unedited transcription of my journals whilst in Croatia.
**Everything in parentheses is added for clarification and not from my original journal
Day 1 — Plitvička Jezera
Context: I flew out of Athens Airport early that morning and after 12 hours of struggling with public transportation and shitty weather, I had finally arrived at my B&B in Plitvice Lakes.
I feel on top of the world. Im alone. In miles and miles of green. Trees, hills, waterfalls, lakes, nature. What a feeling. And I got here myself, all alone, I did it. I can do anything.
Day 4— Split
Context: I spent the first 3 days sick as a dog with no pharmacy or medicine available within miles of where I was. I went ziplining and hiked the lakes on a high fever and it made my cold even worse. The journey to Split was long and I honestly felt like I was going to pass out, but I kept fighting to stay conscious because I was alone and no one was going to take care of me except for, me. When I finally got to Split, my knees were still weak and my head was still spinning. I got some magic pills (the ones I mentioned before) and immediately felt better. You could then imagine the zest for life I suddenly felt again when I wrote this ridiculously passionate entry.
Omnia mutantur, nehil interit.
Culture and life is thriving arond me. Split is such abeautiful city with such complex history, layers upon layers. I always love doing walking tours in new cities and envious of the love and passion the guides have for their city. Maybe one day I can move to a city I love and do the same, too. Arthur said Paris could be that city — but I’m doubtful.
I took this intense pill from the pharmacy and feel drastically better. I really hope to move back to Europe after school. I love the lifestyle here, the zest for life with a dash of pretentiousness. I love the way random streets will remind me of taiwan. I love drinking cheap but good wine with every meal. I love being able to afford wine with every meal. I love how free-spirited yet put together I feel here. I love the love I feel for myself.
It’s so silly to say but I have never felt so in charge of my life. This is the most mentally and physically healthy I have been in a long time. I havent been this self assured in a long time. I didn’t think it was possible — to be at a constant, unwavering level of contentness. I thought life had to be a series of crazy ups and downs, so this constant happiness worried me at first. But I realize that once you make peace with yourself, a lot of things can be possible. Life is still throwing things at me, that has not changed. Challenges, bad luck, it still happens. But my coping mechanisms have changed.
Im afraid to lose this happiness, this resillience. I’m afraid that this feeling is limited to this environment. I’m afraid that once I go back home, the things that used to bother me will bother me once more. But then again, when I first came to Europe I thought the exact same thing — that I wouldn’t know who I am, that I was not as strong as I thought.
But I was wrong to worry and these past couple of days have taught me an important lesson. I always used to think I was super adaptable but boy was I wrong. I don’t fit in, I never did. I don’t taylor myself to adapt to my environment and I need to stop taking pride in my non-existant adaptability- a word that I always throw around in job interviews. In fact, I am the most stubborn and least adaptable person around. What I’ve always taken as adaptability, is actually resilience. I taylor my environment to fit me while staying true to who I am and what I believe in. And I am low key high key super proud of that.
Day 5 — Still in Split…
I like this feeling a lot.
I’m sitting at an outdoor cafe overlooking the city of split. It was quite a hike to get here but well worth the view. I was afraid to hike here alone because of those nasty, creepy men that followed me home from the dock this morning. Honestly fuck those guys and people like them. Shame on you. You are the reason why women are afraid to travel alone. Do you know how much courage it takes for us to be here? And then you show up and step on that courage and prove the status quo to be correct —that the world is, in fact, a dangerous place to be a woman.
I’m on my second latte now. I’m writing a story about how I met someone very important to me. My phone dings occasionally, with messages from Arthur, enlightening me with film facts I never knew before. I like talking to him about the films he wants to write and the characters he creates. Arthur is the kindest soul and you can almost get a peek into his mind through the characters he sympathize with and the movies that he raves about. I hope life never breaks his heart.
There is a a group of American girls behind me loudly chatting away. I am trying to tune them out.
I miss Justin a lot and thinking of our friendship always makes me so happy (Justin is my best friend). It surprises me that even when I’m thousands of miles away, everytime I go through something tough or challenging, he is still the first person I want to talk to. (But he’ll never know that or see this because that asshole never reads anything I write).
I’m also very thankful for this pen-pal relationship I got goin’ on with Sam (one of my freshman year hallmates). Emailing her life updates back and forth and hearing about hers has kept me grounded for the past couple of months.
I’m getting kind of hungry. I miss Sheridan. What are these new outfits she is wearing I am so offended.
I am sitting on the edge by the port, listening to the SPOP touch activity playlist (SPOP is a nickname for our Orientation Program at UCI that I staffed for last summer)(don’t ask why I was listening, it’s extra I know), and looking out into the Mediterranian.
This is beautiful and I feel peaceful.
But nothing is going to beat sitting on the banks of the dirty, smelly Seine, drinking a beer with my friends, closing the night with endless chatter.
Day 7 — Hvar
Context: Hvar was a tiny, tiny little beach town on an island. At this point in time, I was ready to admit that I would rather be with people at that moment, and I was ready to say that without shame.
I’m feeling homesick. I’m pretty ready to go home.
I miss my mom.
Day 8 — King’s Landing (Dubrovnik)
A five hour ferry ride later, I have arrived in Dubrovnik. I’m at this lovely jazz cafe in the old town. Live jazz music will always make me giddy and remind me of Paris. Hvar was too small of a town for me.
I almost want to stay at this cafe all day and I’m going to have to scramble to find one like it back home. I’m very tired of traveling but at the same time this atmosphere is intoxicating. I’m still very happy to be here.
Day 9 — Dubrovnik (Lokrum Island)
I think I found energy and motivation to love traveling again. I did a Game of Thrones tour this morning and got some great recommendations for the city. I am currently on Lokrum Island stalking bunnies, cats, and peacocks. Chelsea says I’m like a Disney Princess (except a weird hippy version that swears a lot and saves the Prince from his own fragile masculinity). What a strange place, this little island. I decided to do a quick day trip to Bosnia tomorrow for a change of environment.
I’m feeling grown as fuck. I organized that trip on my own and paid for it with my own savings. I found that I was more socialable when I was alone. I wouldn’t hesitate to grab drinks with strangers or go to an island with someone completely new because I had nothing to lose (and also because by the end of the trip, I craved friendship and human connection so badly).
You can make friends without small talk. I used to hate small talk because I felt like asking someone where they’re from and what they do for a living was the most bland conversation I never want to have. But what I learned is that asking someone where they’re from is a way of understanding their roots. Asking someone what they do for a living is a way of learning what their passion is. Or if not that, at least a gateway conversation into learning how they got to where they are today.
Finally, the biggest take-away of all, there is no shame in wanting to be in the company of others. I know now how comfortable I am being alone. I know now how to seperate the state of being alone and the feeling of loneliness. I know now that sometimes the biggest struggles and conflicts exist in your own head. And after all of that, I am not afraid to admit that I, right now, want to be with people. My people. My friends. My family. You.
Cheers to all the #nastywomen out there currently traveling alone. And cheers to all the women who will. You fucking go girl.
Here are some more pictures from my trip: