I had just turned 18! Just as any other teenage girl, I was ready to take on the world, as being 18 meant “something” - even though what that something was supposed to be was yet to be figured out.
“I want to travel to New York,” I said to my parents. It was an impulse. They shrugged it off just like any other “superficial” request of mine.
want to travel to New York – even if it means going there alone!”
“Don’t be silly. You’re too young to travel alone. Besides, the world is an unsafe place…especially for a girl!” They shrugged me off again.
Being an only child, I knew my way around getting things...and after three months of intense convincing, crying, temper tantrums, they finally gave in! My parents were sleep-deprived for days out of worry that their only child was going to be travelling alone and had no one to take care of her. I, on the other hand, was just so happy!
Weeks passed and the day finally arrived when I was leaving for my
city of dreams. I bid adieu to my parents, got on my 19-hour flight and landed in the “concrete jungle where dreams are made of…
” - I was literally in an “Empire State of Mind”!
I hopped into a cab – my cab driver told me I was going to love
the place. And boy, he was right! I was only there for about 35 days and I was determined to make my days count. Meanwhile, I had also signed up for a summer course and checked myself into a dorm at the school.
Days passed, and each day taught me something I had never learnt before, something the textbooks of my high school had never taught me…something only experience could teach.
Over the weeks I was in New York, I met the most amazing bunch of people from around the globe. People who shared similar interests such as discovering themselves, exploring cultures and stepping outside their comfort zone. I discovered those hidden little gems within the city that people only talked about discovering in movies or in books. And most importantly, the city taught me how to be content and happy all by myself!
I wasn’t afraid or shy or uncomfortable about watching a movie alone, eating at a restaurant without company, or even have a little picnic all by myself. I didn’t care about being lonely, about being scared, about looking like I didn’t “have” anybody. Someone once said, “If you can't love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?” … I realized I was mastering the art of self-love!
Not to forget, I learnt some very important
lessons during my journey too. One of which was to not accept random pills or drinks from strangers...even if you’ve known them for 5 hours and yet it feels like a lifetime! :P
It has been 5 years since that trip, and every time I plan to go somewhere alone, people still react the same way. “Who are you going with? ““Will it be safe?” “OMG, that is very brave of you!” “I wish I could do that”...
All I say is in response is: “Take the plunge! It’s all going to be worth it. You’ll feel empowered and come out more confident. You may stress out people who care about you and love you, but in the end – it’s your life and you don’t owe it to anybody but yourself. In the end, you’ll only regret the things you haven’t done. Would you rather do what makes you happy and ecstatic, or think about what you haven’t done when you’re 80?”
It’s been five years since my very first solo trip, and I have had ten more! And trust me when I say it’s never too late to take your first step!
And it’s also true that wanderlust is contagious. I’ve already booked my next trip or two! ;)