In Search of: A Little Self Discovery

For 33 years, I’ve told people I’m a loner.  Um.  I don’t think that’s true.

It’s funny how a few weeks on the road can make a person see themselves differently.  Like, I had this ridiculously obvious epiphany a few hours ago: I’m not a loner!  I’m not.  I’m not.

Did you already know this?  I didn’t.  Whenever I meet new people, that’s one of the first things I tell them.  I love to work alone.  I love to live alone.  And, quite often, I love to be alone.  I’m not a big fan of large social gatherings.  In fact, I get nervous thinking about them.  I joke that I’m a bit anti-social.  Put me amongst of group of strangers, and tell me to make friends.  I’ll look at you like you’re a nut.  Because I don’t need more friends.  I’ve already got damn friends.

So all of this together sort of pegged me for loner-hood.

Except that leaves out the part of socializing that I do like.  Such as spending evenings working out with my sis-in-law and having dinner with my niece and nephew.  Like cooking with my friend, Carrie.  Or hiking with Christy. Or what about the fact that I seem to choose careers that put me front and center with people?  Every.  Single.  Day.  Jobs that isolate me from others have historically driven me to near madness.

The fact is, I like being around people.  I like having others to keep me company.  I like talking and sharing and laughing.  Actually, I LOVE laughing.  But you guys already know that.  The thing is, it’s hard to laugh when you’re by yourself.  (Not impossible, actually.  It just happens less often.)

I’ve been traveling alone for the last couple weeks, and I’ve been having these amazing experiences and loving every second of it.  But I’ve also been feeling a little off.  Or maybe a lot off.  And I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.  Until today, when I freaked out at my dear friend for making a suggestion that I visit another place.  His response was something of, “Dude, WTF?  Chill out, lady.”

So I took a step back and realized something: I don’t like being alone.  Yep.  Awesome adventures and amazing experiences aside — I sort of love being around people.  I love having people to talk to, people that understand me.  Friends.

That’s not to say I’m not absolutely loving my trip.  I am.  Did I mention the awesome adventures?  It’s just this: I spent the last eight years living with another person.  I wasn’t all that alone most of the time.  I do enjoy my alone time.  We all know that.  But then that pretty much ends with morning reading and oatmeal.  The rest of the day?  I like interacting with people.

I thought back over my meetings with other traveler’s thus far, and omg, I cling to them.  I talk, and I talk, and I talk.  And then I talk some more.  Wait…you have to go?  But I’ve got more to say!

Yes, it turns out, I’m a bit of a talker.  Shy, quiet Heather can’t seem to keep her mouth shut.  And so it is.  I’m not a loner after all.

So although I’ve sort of fallen in love with traveling, I’ve also fallen out of love with the idea of traveling alone.  Sort of.  Because there’s a certain freedom that comes with heading out on your own, a certain level of excitement.  Plus there’s the part where you don’t have to make compromises about how much to spend or what to do next.  I mean, seriously, what other friends of mine would want to bike for eight hours through Angkor?  For that matter, what other friends of mine could take two months off from work to go on a random trip with me?  I’ll answer that.  None.

And thus, the conundrum.  What to do?  Have you ever traveled alone?  If so, how do you solve this problem in your own travels?  I’m in need of a solution here.  Because I assure you — this trip has merely stoked the travel flame.

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