It's Weird To Travel Alone, Do It Anyways.
I can't believe he just confirmed everything I feared in 2 words. That's weird.
Friends and family have told me I'm adventurous, brave, and that they were happy I was taking advantage of my time to travel. But secretly, I couldn't help but wonder if they thought I was weird for traveling alone, especially since I'm not in some type of internship or abroad program - I'm just living my life. Even if they did think it was weird, I'm not sure if anyone would tell me - and that's probably for the best.
So the other day, I was at this big event called Karneval der Kulturen (carnival of the cultures) in Berlin. Sidenote - this event alone deserves it's own blog post because it was amazing!!! I'm walking around, doing some shopping, and talking with artists. I decide to stop for a beer and this guy starts talking to me, and I apologetically tell him that my German isn't that great and ask if he speaks English (y'all..I really am working on my German but it's HARD). Luckily, we switch straight to English and start talking about what we do and why we're at the event and where we're from and yada yada..
So.. you're just by yourself? And you don't know anyone? But why are you here? No friends? That's weird.
Ugh, he hit me where it hurt. I got defensive. I didn't want him to think I was just some weird lone wolf! I explained to him that I'm in a unique time in my life and I'm not tied down with a lot so I wanted to take advantage of it and travel. Don't get me wrong, I think I would love to do it with someone - but I couldn't find anyone who also just happened to have 2 months free to go to Europe, so it was either do it alone or not do it at all.
I don't know if he meant it mean. But mean or not, I thought about it and he's right - it is weird. Everyday I have to decide to either go put myself out there or go read in a hammock. I would say the result is almost a perfect tie. Somedays I wake up with this energy that makes me want to go explore and meet everyone and go to events. Somedays I just want to take advantage of the fact that I could not be social in the slightest and no one would know. But one thing is consistent, and that's I get to do what I want every damn day - and that is unusual. Yeah, unusual - I like that better than weird. Or, unique even.
But alas, I'll continue the story of the day - so you can see the beauty of the weirdness of traveling alone. I used my better judgment and ditched that guy and kept on walking through the karneval. I was walking behind this group of people and they were speaking English! One guy had an American accent which I hadn't heard for a couple weeks, so it felt nice. I was pumped! I was quick to try to jump in and see where they were from. One guy was from California, one guy was from Prague, one girl was from Italy, one girl was from France, and one guy was from...I actually don't remember. Anyways, I asked how they all knew each-other and they said they were part of a meetup group and just came together to check out the karneval. Ah yes, a meetup group! I had been to a few workout groups in the park that were actually so fun, but those didn't make me nervous because we were occupied running around and getting yelled at in German! I'd been wanting to join a more social one, but was ashamedly always a little nervous. I'm outgoing, but the idea of forced socializing gives me some weird anxiety. I always thought it would have a weird college-dorm-room-ice-cream-social-vibe to it.
Back to the story, we all started walking and talking and drinking, and I realized either I had gotten really lucky or these meetup groups are legit and I need to take advantage of them. They didn't think I was weird at all! Anywho - the French girl, Marianne, and I ended up hanging out all day. I went back to the Karneval on Sunday, made new friends at the parade, and then read in the hammock. Then last night I went to grab a drink with Marianne and we ended up meeting even more people and staying out til the sunrise!
There's this quote I've heard: "There's no strangers in this world, only friends you haven't met." And while I don't think everyone I meet will be my instant best friend, the quote makes more and more sense to me everyday.
ALSO! It's not like traveling is just about making friends. It's also about seeing new things, learning about cultures, and being responsible for yourself - which all equals learning more about yourself than you ever knew you could in a short period of time.
I think if I ever meet anyone as blunt as him again - someone who just tells me it's weird, I'll just agree. Because they're right. And I think if I learned anything it's that I don't need to defend why I'm by myself, I just am.
So to anyone reading this that's thinking about traveling by themselves, one hundred percent of me would say DO IT!! I'm not going to lie: it is weird. It's hard. It's exhausting. It's scary. It's liberating. But above all I believe it's life-changing.
Keep being weird, my friends.