“If you’re lonely when you’re alone, you’re in bad company.”
― Jean-Paul Sartre
It’s hard being an introvert. You spend half your life convincing others: there’s nothing wrong with being one, and the next half — convincing yourself. Sometimes, it’s easier to put on the mask of an extrovert and get on with the torture of having to explain why ‘being alone’ is so essential to ‘being you’. Strangely, I’ve never felt alone when I am on my own and yet, on many social interactions, in the company of others, I often feel lost and empty. If I can’t have a stimulating conversation, I wonder what was the purpose of a forced social interaction. And yet, we’re always told, as long as I can remember, you must go outside and meet people. Even if, true happiness may be found in a playlist of favourite songs and a blank sheet of paper.
“Sometimes I get so immersed in my own company, if I unexpectedly run into someone I know, it’s a bit of a shock and takes me a while to adjust.”
― Kazuo Ishiguro,
As a traveller, it’s even harder being an introvert. Social interaction is necessary and on many occasions — a matter of survival. When we first started travelling, I didn’t mind the regular tourist places of interest. As we grew in our travel journey, I wanted to get away from crowds, dull buzz, flashlights, and pearly whites. There’s a part of me that has developed a strong aversion to tourism. A lot might have to do with the systematic stereotyping that results in developing tourism without thought. Sadly, I also realise how tourism drives many local economies and the livelihood of people involved.
“I live in that solitude which is painful in youth, but delicious in the years of maturity.”
― Albert Einstein
Fortunately, as travellers we can make our choices. We can choose to visit popular tourist sights with longs lines of waiting people. Or, we can choose to go where few people go. Or, as we have discovered; just walk and follow your feet. Some of the best sights lie in the middle of nowhere. Some of the best sights are never found online. Some of the best sights don’t cost much. And, some of the best sights can never be found again.
“Let me tell you this: if you meet a loner, no matter what they tell you, it’s not because they enjoy solitude. It’s because they have tried to blend into the world before, and people continue to disappoint them.”
― Jodi Picoult,
Finding a good travel partner isn’t easy. Keeping one is tougher. Travel can make or break your relationship with your partner — no matter what kind of relationship you’re in. On our trips, there are many moments when we prefer to walk alone and get lost in what we see. The beauty of a silent walk is incomparable. And walking alone, knowing there’s someone right behind, giving you the space you need — without letting go — is priceless.
“Whosoever is delighted in solitude, is either a wild beast or a god.”
There are many joys to be found in travel and there are many kinds of travellers out there. The ones who help and the ones who ignore. The ones who make it about themselves and the ones who make it about being in the moment. I’ve always hoped that travel will make us better people. Iron out those kinks, kill our foolish judgements, and bring us closer to a realisation of who we are or could be. Maybe, even repurpose the reason for wanting to travel. There’s a strong yearning to leave it all, to escape the noise, or the need to fit in, and the constant pressure to document. In those priceless moments of solitude is where we can be free from it all and hopefully, be who we really want to be…