My recent 10 day adventure in Costa Rica has my heart pumping with glee and my mind racing to figure out what my next voyage will be. After every meaningful event or experience in my life, my natural instinct is to fall into a deep state of reflection. This is especially true after a big trip. I am thinking back on my past international travels through my adolescence and young adulthood and consider a dream of mine that I’ve held tight to since I was 15. I have always wanted travel to a new country on my own. “Alone” could have multiple meanings depending on your personality, independence level, and degree of introversion. I suppose you could say I lived out this dream when I was a sophomore in high school… depending on how technical you’d like to get. I signed up with a program called People to People. 40 high school kids, 3 adults, 5 European countries. Everyone started out as a stranger to me. As far as I’m concerned, that’s about as alone, but also connected I had ever felt in my life. I had never spent more than a few days away from my family before then, and by the 5th day… I was feeling like a 3 yr old just wanting her mom.
For the very reason that this trip was a huge test to my independence and confidence, I burst through my comfort zone and developed a mind of my own and a need for independence and adventure.
As I’ve gotten older, my endurance for being away from my family/friends has grown, my curiosity level has increased, and my craving for uncomfortable, eye opening, and euphoria invoking experiences has skyrocketed. That Euro trip opened a gateway for my true nature to roam free. I realized that taking opportunities to be away and test my own self sufficiency actually deepens my ability connect with my loved ones when I come back. Weird how it works. Here I am now, 7 years older and 4 countries richer, still just as eager to explore international soil as that wide-eyed 15 year old girl I used to be. The only difference is now I have an actual paycheck coming in… making funding my desires way easier. 🙂
Like I mentioned before, I just got back from a 10 day trip to Costa Rica last week. Going with a group of 20 something yr old strangers reminded me of my first international trip back in high school… just this time with a lot more booze. This was my first big trip since COVID struck, so it’s needless to say that I was way past restless to get flying again. I was revisited by that child like glee that fills me to the brim as I made new friends, hiked through the rainforest, white water rafted down rivers, zip lined hundreds of feet in the air, and danced to nothing but reggatón. Costa Rica reminded me that when I travel, I feel as if my personality, my spirit, my soul, (whatever you wanna call it!!!!!), surpasses my physical body and expands through the billions of air particles until there’s nothing left of me to stretch any further. Only then do I feel satisfied. Content. Like there’s nothing left I need to do, I’m happy.
On those two epic trips, I was “alone” in the sense that I didn’t have my family or friends by my side. I had to make sure my needs were met, intentionally connect with other people, and be alright with being alone. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly humans can create a bond. By the very first day, I already knew I didn’t need to worry. We were already a unit. These types of trips consistently disprove my own personal narratives that I am too shy, too introverted, unable to thrive in a group setting. That’s why I take them; to show myself that my limits can be demolished and surpassed.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to try traveling all by my self.. without a safety net to fall back on. In a way, this desire of mine is considered taboo. By my parents, for sure.. but to our society in general. A 5’2, 115 pound girl walking alone through downtown Austin could be considered dangerous depending on the time of day and the area… let alone a 5’2, 115 pound girl exploring a new country solo. Would it be lonely? Would it be safe? Would it force me to build unshakable confidence and resourcefulness? I try my best to balance my exploratory and rebellious side with my rational and cautious side. You definitely need both. That I have learned from experience. One day, at the right time and in the right place, I’ll live out this dream. As long as I keep seeking out “Oh sh** moments”, “I’m gonna cry” moments, “I can’t believe I’m doing this moments” my soul will be nourished and my life will be full.
Until next time,
Enjoy these pictures from my trip 🙂