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A solo travelling mom unravels what it means to be alone during a journey, and how solo travel has actually helped her not be alone!
Never in my life have I considered solo travels to be a yardstick of how ‘alone’ I can be. I just think of it as how well I can ‘manage’ things. Solitude cannot be confused with ‘alone’. Every time I post my trip’s blog or pictures, I get lots of love for sure. But, at times I get hurtful messages as well – which can be loosely interpreted as I am destined to be alone.
Over time, I got used to it and have never really cared to explain. But, I feel I am obliged to clear certain misconceptions around the A-word for some reason which I will come to later.
I might be 27 years old but the only sibling in my family to still throw tantrums that I am the usual ‘ignored’ child. Middle child syndrome is for real, people. Also, the fact that I am not writing a diary to keep it myself but a blog in ‘public’ about things that matter to me means, I want people to engage with me for god’s sake.
I have no shame accepting that I crave attention as much as everyone does. But, if you call me a lone wolf, I would just laugh at your face. I call, text and post pictures in WhatsApp groups every night of my trip.
I feel it all boils down to certain stigmas around solo traveling. It is generally considered to be for losers who cannot find someone to go with (which I am) or for ‘unsocial’ people who can’t stand the presence of other human beings around them (which I am not). Or it is grossly overrated like it is only for the ‘Brave’ (Again, I am not.)
See, all the theories are contradicting when tested. But, I can assure you, all are equally wrong. Also, I can say this with utmost certainty that I am more social in my solo trips than in any group trip.
Say, for example, I have to constantly engage with complete strangers around me like, “How to go to this place?” “How far it is?” “What not to miss here?” etc., etc., and most importantly “Can you take a picture of me?” All this in a language only either of us understands. Sometimes I have to discuss random topics with strangers like whether it is ok for India to keep following Reservations. Trust me, I did.
In fact, solo trips have never increased my adaptability to be ‘alone’ a bit. Instead, it has helped otherwise. I have started being more considerate towards people around me. I look for things in my trip that may interest my friends and try to include them in some way. Like, once I made videos on metro rail in my trip and sent it to one of my friends who makes such videos.
Coming to why I need to make this point of not wanting to be ‘alone’, I was reminded of one of my old memories of visiting a doctor alone.
I was asked to get a scan done which demanded that I fill my bladder to a point that I might pee any moment. I had a hard time coping with that physical inconvenience with my emotional state of mind going downhill rapidly. Once it was over, I was able to console myself only after crying buckets and getting some fresh air.
Just the negative thoughts that gather is enough to depress the shit out of anyone. It happened like 3 years back, but still gives me nightmares. So much so that I start freaking out in advance if I have a doctor’s appointment now. I see a lot of pregnant women reaching RSRM Hospital alone, when I go by bus. My heart always goes out for them. I just can’t imagine how strong they must be to handle that. The bus drivers too become more compassionate and drop them at the gate, and the passengers keep craning their necks to look out for them as much as possible. I think about what it must be for age-ing and homeless people to visit a hospital alone. It just doesn’t stop with hospital visits. We all feel terrible at different times and crave compassion from fellow human beings.
There are times I wanted my friends to stop ignoring my choice of place to visit saying “I can go there ‘alone’ if I want”.
All of us must have at some time stopped ourselves from calling someone we want to; cried ourselves to sleep; felt homesick; had terrible birthdays alone. The person next to us may be going through a much worse scenario, yet hiding it. If only our judgments don’t cloud us into thinking that another person is too strong to be depressed when alone, we can be of being more of a help to people around us.
No one wants to be alone. Period.
A version of this was first published here.
Image source: shutterstock
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Wannabe optimist. Argumentative. Dangerously impulsive. Expert idiot. Yet a spirited versatile.
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