This year I spent four months backpacking solo throughout Southeast Asia and Africa. I didn’t know anyone, but this once in a lifetime experience exposed me to different cultures, people, and ways of life. It also had the added benefit of making me truly appreciate the perks of being single.
I was truly independent.
No boyfriend, no friends, no family—just me. There were frequent setbacks—getting lost, food poisoning, having things stolen, and language barriers all presented difficulties—and yet, I was still able to figure it all out on my own.
My self-confidence skyrocketed.
As a result of becoming more self-reliant, I became so much more confident in every way. I learned that I’m capable of so much and that I’m more than enough in every possible way. Most importantly, this self-esteem boost came from within rather than from a boyfriend’s compliments.
I learned about myself and my true interests.
Without anyone else there to influence me, I was able to really explore what I like doing. I tried new things and embraced what really makes me happy. For instance, I love hiking and exploring nature but I don’t love racing to the top of a mountain and being competitive about it. It was great to discover that on my own time.
It made me stronger.
I’ll always be a sensitive person. However, I realized that this is more of a strength than a weakness because it allows me to feel more compassion towards other people. Moreover, I realized that I’m super resilient. I had plenty of truly terrible days but I kept bouncing back because I knew that there were more wonderful times ahead.
It made me enjoy “me time” more.
I used to get incredibly lonely spending even one day on my own. I got so restless and bored, and that made me long for a relationship. When I was traveling, I had to entertain myself more days than not and I began to revel in these moments. Whether I picked up a book or took a walk through nature, I was got some much-needed peace. I don’t need other people to avoid boredom—I just need to look within.
Dining on my own was empowering.
There were many nights where I had the choice of either dining out on my own or eating cookies in my dorm bed. I quickly got over the fear of eating alone that so many of us have. In fact, I realized that taking myself on romantic dates is actually the best! It feels so European to sit down at an outside table with a tea or glass of wine and people watch. Plus, there’s something special about savoring my food in silence. Everyone should try this, traveling or not.
I could do whatever I wanted at any given time.
Whether I wanted to wake up early and see the sunrise or stay in bed until noon, no one was stopping me. I could go out when I wanted and go back to the hostel when I wanted. More importantly, I never felt bad about it. It’s great not having to answer to anyone and never having to compromise.
It taught me to be more spontaneous.
Apart from catching trains and planes, I had no schedule or rules to live by. This allowed me to do anything on a moment’s notice and I had so much fun! Whether strangers who quickly became new friends invited me on an adventure or I decided to purposely get lost in a new city, it was always go-time.
I met way more people than I would traveling with a boyfriend.
Something about being in a couple turns people off from striking up a conversation with you, especially when traveling. Not to mention, if I already had someone by my side, I’d have been much less likely to feel the need to socialize and make friends. Being single really forced me to put myself out there. Thanks to this, I met some amazing people I’ll never forget.
I could flirt with any guy I wanted.
Traveling was perhaps the first time where I’ve had absolutely zero interest in a relationship, and it was so freeing. I was too captivated by all of the amazing experiences I was having to care. This gave me the freedom to flirt with anyone I wished. I didn’t care about rejection or whether it could go anywhere. Flirting while single and looking can be brutal, but flirting while single and loving it is awesome.
It made me pickier about future dates.
I don’t want to spend my time with just anyone, especially now that I realize how independent, strong, and incredible I am. Hell, I could be using that time to travel. I’d rather be single than coupled up with someone who isn’t quite the right fit for me. And if he doesn’t love travel, it just isn’t going to work.
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