This snippet is basically my views on why solo trips are necessary and why I chose to do it so early on in my life. So the first question is what is a solo trip.
Put simply it’s travelling solo be it near or far. It may be a simple weekend getaway where you chose to allot some value time to yourself or it may be a much elaborate one like going out on a trek solo or maybe even better backpacking through continents and sub continents alone. Now the questions that most people ask me when I tell them about my solo trip are “Where is the fun in that” or “Wouldn’t we have more fun in numbers?”or “Are you a loner or an introvert?”. Now I will venture to answer all of them and try to debunk some of the myths surrounding solo travel.
So the answer to the question “Am I a loner or an introvert?”. No I am not. Not by a long shot. I categorize myself as an ambivert. I love my parties on fridays, I love socialising, going out, wearing pretty dresses, returning in the wee hours of the morning drunk; I love all that. But does that define who I am? A small part maybe. But I am also the kind of person who you would see wearing thick spectacles, lounging in my pjs on my couch on saturdays reading a book or just watching Netflix, cancelling all my plans to just stay at home, cook up a sumptuous meal for myself and relish it with a glass of red wine. So am I a loner? No. I just like to isolate myself from the whole world sometimes, put my phone away and just give some time to myself. So as I stated earlier, I am an ambivert. I may have a lot of acquaintances, people I go out with or talk to or party with but only a handful of people are allowed to actually enter into my life. I am not shallow around them and only they are allowed a sneak peak into who I actually am, my insecurities, my fears and my secrets.
So coming back, to answer the other two questions “Where is the fun in that?” or ” wouldn’t we have more fun in numbers?”, I will venture to tell you why I did it along with the how and the where. So it was somewhere around June 2016. My personal life was in shambles. Professionally, I was going great guns, but my personal life was taking a toll on my work life. I coudn’t concentrate on my work, I used to be frustrated most of the time and snap at people at the slightest provocation. Frustration had given way to excessive smoking and I would run through packets in a day. I would stay awake till late, tossing and turning in my bed, pondering, bereft of sleep and leave for office sharp at 7. I would be the first to arrive in office and the last to leave but I wasnt getting any job done because my heart wasn’t in it. I was in office simply because I hated staying at home. There was a crushing loneliness and emptiness there and I dreaded going back. I was eating simply for the sake of it without any appetite. You would ask me why all this all of a sudden. The first question that would spring to your mind would be a breakup. A bad one at that. Well you are partially correct . I did go through a breakup. My first and only one till date and a bad one at that. It left me emotionally and physically scarred for life. Emotionally because I was left with the feeling that I wouldn’t be able to love anymore. I had tremendous trust issues and I doubted everything and everyone around me, even the closest ones. I put up high walls around me, barriers, and I decided not to let anyone penetrate them. I withdrew into a shell as I felt, if I did that, no one would be able to hurt me.
But the one thing that actually made me decide to go on a solo trip was the fact that I had started doubting myself, my worth, everything I am about, my abilities, my brains, my looks. I would remain awake thinking. Why would something like this happen to me. Am I not good enough, not worthy enough? I am not a quitter but at that time, one day, I came close to giving up on life; came close to quitting, and that is why I decided to let go of everything and go on this trip. I needed to clear my head and the fiercely independent soul in me told me to do it all alone. And I did it. All of a sudden. I packed my bags, applied my leaves and left for Kasol. A tiny village at the heart of Himachal Pradesh. It’s secluded and its perfect for anyone looking for peace and isolation. I reached there, switched off my phone and sat by the banks of the clean virgin Parvati river. For the first time in a long long while, sitting under the starry sky, in the valley at night, against the beautiful backdrop of the snow capped mountains with the only sounds being of the river gushing by, I experienced happiness. I rediscovered my worth. I rediscovered what I was about. I didn’t need people, didn’t need words or reasssurances. Sitting in my tent alone with someone playing the flute far away, I found what I had been missing, what true happiness was. I fell in love with myself all over again. Life may have dealt a blow but I wasn’t one to quit. I was alone but I felt the safest. Nature had taken me in her sacred fold and told me it was okay to cry but it wan’t okay to give up.
I hiked and trekked for kilometres alone, had Maggi at 12000 ft altitude, took a bath in a hot water spring, had entire sumptous meals all by myself and I loved it. I felt rejuvenated to my core. I met people along the way. I made friends, some of whom I talk to till date. And, when I returned after a week, back to the real world, my entire viewpoint, my approach of looking at life, love and all that accompanies it had changed. I felt like a phoenix who had risen from the ashes. So, yes, it was worth it and given a chance, I would do it all over again.
I believe everyone should do it at some point in their lives. Just let go of all the pretense, give time to yourself, love yourself and just be you. Rediscover yourself. You will understand how truly wonderful and unique you are.