I’m an introverted extrovert. I crave attention while simultaneously hating clinginess.
I’m 21, Australian, upper-middle class and openly gay; halfway through my first real worldwide adventure. Those details of sociality, age, nationality and sexuality may seem like useless pieces of information but they’re all things that partially define who I am, explain the kind of lessons I’ve been taught along the way and help to give the things I’m about to write some backstory and meaning.
Before setting foot in an airport there was so much to look at in regard to this grand holiday plan I’d started to shape; length, destinations, company and what kind of experiences I wanted to get.
Length was the first thing I decided to look at. I needed enough time to see everything I thought I wanted to see while not being gone so long I ran out of funds. I decided on a month-long Contiki Tour to kick things off and give me some bearings and insight into places, and then two and a half months of travel after that, 15 weeks in total.
I next looked at destinations; where I wanted to go and what friends who have travelled recommended to me. I settled on, what I thought at the time, a reasonable 23 countries including ones I visit on Contiki.
Finally I began to ask who I would be with on this grand adventure, and I found a friend for Contiki but it became apparent that I’d be spending two and a half months, exploring foreign countries, alone. I thought this would be brilliant.
Jump forward a few months and I find myself at the airport so excited to start this holiday. At the time, I imagined an epic journey of sight-seeing, self-discovery, friend making and partying. I had little idea just what such a holiday had in store for an in-experienced solo traveller like me.
Before leaving for this exciting adventure I had a network of people around me. I’ve always worked in a social environment and made so many friends through that, yet saying goodbye seemed easy.
I had an amazing group of friends who radiated nothing but love and support. That was more of an emotional farewell yet still it didn’t seem like a big deal to me.
I had a partner who loved me, something I could never take for granted, and was so happy for me to able to go on this holiday I’d been dreaming about for so long. That was a hard goodbye.
And then I had my family, my family who have given me the world and always accepted me unconditionally. The family I’ve taken for granted a few too many times. That was emotional but it still came back to the “we’ll talk and it really won’t be that long”.
Flash forward almost 2 months and here I am, sitting in Croatia, a magical corner of the world, writing this emotional something that I never imagined I’d put to paper… or notes on my iPhone.
Firstly my partner cheated on me not even 48hrs into this trip and I told myself and everyone around me it didn’t hurt but everyone who’s been cheated on knows that’s an absolute lie.
At first it felt so easy to keep in contact with all my friends and family from home as well, but as time wore on the conversations lessened and eventually ground to a halt.
I’ve had my Contiki journey and it was everything I’d hoped it would be and so, so much more. I’ll forever be thankful for that amazing group of people.
But like everything it came to an end all too quickly and there were emotional goodbyes there and I found myself with my OG partner in crime for a few brief days before my highly anticipated solo adventure began.
At first it was everything I imagined it would be. The joy of seeing what I wanted to see in the world, at my own pace. I felt so alive and happy, and proud for getting myself here.
However, slowly but surely, and no matter how much you try to deny it’s happening; the loneliness kicks in.
It starts when you see a group of friends walking around the city laughing and having a joyous time. You feel it when you see a family on vacation together. It happens when you walk into a store or restaurant and the employees and happily working and interacting with each other. And it definitely happens when you see a happy pair walking down the street, hand in hand, enjoying the things you’re enjoying but… together.
You distract yourself whenever you can; interacting with fellow travellers, soaking up the major sights and new cultures, even immersing yourself in a book and trying to experience the lives of the people written into the pages. But it doesn’t help for long. And because of that the realisation sets in; I’m lonely.
I’ve come to that realisation myself and it really gets you down. You try to spark up the conversations with friends but the time zones and life gets in the way of a proper conversation. If you’re like me you might even look at a one-night stand to try and bring some closeness into your life but it just leaves you feeling as empty as you were before.
So now I’m here, looking forward to all the places I’m going to and all the experiences I’m going to have and I just can’t help but wish there was someone here, someone I could share the world with.
That sentence makes it sound like a partner but you can share the world with anyone; a family member, a friend or even someone you met a few days ago in a hostel. Just someone.
Now it’s shaping the way I’m looking at my further travels; can I work it so I can stay a few more days with this friend I’ve made, can I cut out that destination without much regret? The loneliness is seeping into everything I do, and, although I’ll never admit it to someone I know, it’s tainting the things I’m seeing and my willingness to take part in activities.
I don’t know what the next month and a half have in store for me on this big old adventure and I don’t know how I’ll feel about everything once it’s over but there’s some things I know for sure;
– the world is a magical and beautiful place, but it feels better to explore it and share it with someone
– I can’t wait to get home and back to the people who mean the world to me
– I don’t think I’ll be able to do an extended solo holiday again
– I still secretly hope a prince finds me while I’m over here and falls in love with me