On Solitude

All right, here is the thing: I am an introvert and I like being alone and I don’t like justifying why I want to travel/to be alone (sometimes). For me, it’s as if someone would ask why I need to breath. You see, as soon as I mention my solo adventures, I get asked (even from my close friends and relatives and my own mother, who actually should know how I’m):

•Are you not scared?
•Why don’t you just take a tour?
•You shouldn’t do it alone (watching sunset, sunrise, watching anything that is beautiful)
•Are you not lonely?
•Isn’t it dangerous to travel alone especially as a woman?
•Won’t you get bored when you travel alone?
•Why do you travel alone?

Well, why the hell not?

Seriously, I don’t remember how often I have to justify myself. It drives me nuts. Worse, it drives me crazy when I have to justify myself and my decision in front of close friends and relatives. Aren’t they supposed to support me? Maybe it is just the idea of being alone in a new place that freaks them out because they associate it with loneliness and danger? Especially Asians tend to do that because collectivity is a key element in their culture. Let me tell you one thing though: loneliness is an entirely different thing. You can feel lonely amid a crowd of people. Loneliness is something that I wish none of us has to experience for too long. Being alone, however, doesn’t mean you are lonely.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not a people hater and I really do enjoy my time (traveling ) with other people (2 or three are enough though). Like any other human beings, I also crave for the sense of belonging. But sometimes I just need time for myself and recharge my energy by being alone. Being surrounded by people makes me tired and exhausted so sometimes I just prefer reading or thinking or just enjoying the quietness around me. It makes me more creative. It gives me balance. It makes me happy. And why would you (especially close friends and relatives) deny me something that makes me happy? Come on, I don’t ask why you like traveling with other people or spending time and talking with many people so why do you have to ask me why I don’t like what you like? Why can’t you just give me the same respect? I can safely say that most of my ideas come from the moments when I am alone with my thoughts. And I absolutely don’t see the need to change myself to please other people. So to those who have benefited from any of my ideas (photos, videos, words, etc.): don’t thank me. Thank my introverted nature.

Traveling/Being alone is not everyone’s cup of tea but please do not associate that attitude with arrogance, weirdness or any other assumptions. Please have enough respect and accept their decision and take them just the way they are. So if you have a boyfriend, girlfriend, sister, brother, son, daughter, cousin or anyone who you love with that attitude, please try to understand them and respect them. Last but not least, just be happy for their happiness because at the end of the day who are you to define their happiness?

Some excellent books and articles on solitude, introvert people and traveling alone:

Susan Cain: http://www.thepowerofintroverts.com/

Michelle Lara Lin: http://thestrangerblog.com/extreme-introvert/

Jonathan Rauch: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2003/03/caring-for-your-introvert/302696/

Janice Waugh and Tracey Nesbitt: http://solotravelerblog.com/travel-alone/

Henry David Thoreau – Walden: http://xroads.virginia.edu/~hyper/walden/walden.html

So my dear part-time, full-time, soon-to-be, wannabe solo travelers / introverts, give me some sign to show the world that you exist and I’m not alone! What other questions do you receive when you mention your solo trips or preference to be alone?