You can be your real (and only) self when traveling solo


With Shybi, a kitchen staff at Ayurjeevan Ayurveda, Kerala, India

I met many people, strangers, when traveling, especially solo. In some trips, I planned to meet them, while in most others, I didn’t. Meeting those strangers is, to me, equals to looking at the man in the mirror in front of me.

As I talked to many of them (yes, not all rendez-vous were ended up in meaningful talks, but most were), topics were easily slipped away to personals. One of the most common was relationships.

Questions such as “Why did you choose not get married?” or “Why did you choose to be with that person?” might not come from people I am familiar with at home. But when asked by strangers, I felt like those questions are asked by the man in the mirror in front of me. And, although I was pretty sure that that man knew the answer, the answer was not the point. Validation was.

With a firm expectation of not to expect another rendez-vous with the same stranger in the future, I had no other choice but to be honest and gave an honest answer. The answer was not so much to the stranger but to myself.

I met Shybi in a hospital in Kerala, India where I was learning ayurveda. Shybi was a naturally friendly young woman. Being away from her parents, she missed her mom a lot. She posed the same question to me, “Don’t you miss your loved ones at home?” I knew that whatever my answer was, there would be another question to follow. So I excused myself to make a phone call the person whom I missed a lot at that time and returned to Shybi with an answer, ” I did.”

I once experimented giving ‘alternative truth’ (inspired by the President of the United States, thank you) and it lent me an awkward feeling afterward. It seemed that being dishonest to myself was not an option and self-dishonesty would haunt me quickly after it spelled out.

So, yes. One of the reasons I enjoyed traveling solo is to meet strangers. Not only to learn about their life but also to re-learn about mine.

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