Self-conscious. Safe. Introverted. Hurt.
Those four words described me pretty accurately until last August when I decided to embark on the biggest adventure of my life so far. Those of you who have already read my other posts will know that I decided to travel solo to Amsterdam (for history, culture and maybe a little bit of love.) This is the story of how it all came to be:
Let’s go back to March 2016…
At the insistence of two of my girlfriends, despite my resistance, I had recently gotten back into the dating game. I had been out with a few men but I didn’t connect with them on the level I was looking for.
Well, after 2 weeks in Maui I checked my messages and one from a guy in the Netherlands piqued my interest. Why? Because he mentioned travel, specifically Scotland, which I had mentioned in my profile. I read his profile and it made me laugh out loud more than once and he had done a lot of travelling. I remember thinking, “He’s safe. We’ll talk about travel for a bit and then I’ll never talk to him again” and I responded.
Along came June 2016…
We were spending a crazy amount of time texting with each other; pretty much whenever we were both awake. We had a ton in common and he had so many of the qualities I was looking for in someone. There was only one problem. He lived in Holland. As crazy as it sounds, I felt an intense emotional connection and the more we texted the more I felt like I had to meet this guy.
One of my girlfriends suggested we go to Holland in the summer. We started looking into it and it looked like we could plan a pretty awesome trip; a European vacation with the bonus of meeting C! By the end of the month I had informed him of our intentions to visit Amsterdam in the summer. We started Skyping (boy, was I ever nervous the first time) in preparation for a REAL conversation one day.
The hitch in our plan…
“I need dental surgery and our benefits don’t cover it.” What!?! No! My friend couldn’t go through with our trip. I didn’t know what to do. I felt like I HAD to meet C. I needed to know if there was a connection in person. But I was absolutely terrified of travelling on my own. I was so torn. One of my biggest concerns was how my parents would react if I told them I was thinking of going on my own. I started doing some soul searching and research about female solo travel and came to the following conclusions:
*I’m single. I might always be single. Should I miss out on travelling just because I can’t find someone to go with?
*I’m smart and cautious. Just because I would be in a different country didn’t mean I would suddenly become careless.
*I would experience complete independence for the first time in my life.
*If I was miserable I didn’t have to leave my hotel or I could book a flight to the UK to visit family there. Worst case, I could book an earlier flight home. If it was THAT horrible money would be the least of my concerns.
*I would discover if I liked travelling solo. If I didn’t, I never had to do it again.
***Check out this cool read by Carolyn Smurthwaite who compiled quotes from female solo travellers. I’m even quoted in it!
August Came Around…
I still hadn’t booked anything. My parents had come around and one night I was at their house when my mom asked if I had booked my flight and hotel yet. I don’t think she really thought I ever would. I told her I was giving myself until the following night. She asked why I would wait and said that I should do now. And so I did. I booked my flight and hotel. There was no turning back.
8 days later…
I hopped on a plane headed for Amsterdam. Little did I know that this two-week trip that took me WAY out of my comfort zone would be such an empowering experience. I was forced to figure things out for myself. I asked for help. I ate at restaurants alone. I wandered aimlessly. I got lost. I talked to strangers. I made new friends. And, to top it all off, I healed my heart.
When I returned home two weeks later I wasn’t the same person. As ridiculous as it sounds, I left as a 33 year old girl and returned as a 33 year old woman.
Confident. Brave. Independent. Hopeful.
Fast-forward to today…
One week ago I dropped C off at the airport after spending four weeks together. We never know what exactly the future holds but I do know that if it wasn’t for this man I wouldn’t be the woman I am today.
Follow your heart; you never know where it might take you.