August 27th, 2015
“You brave young lady!” the woman at my hostel says to me over sangria. “That must be very scary for you.” She’s genuinely impressed and concerned alike, and I’m charmed by her caring demeanor. Apparently I am a fragile looking thing to the outside world. But that’s not how I feel inside. Inside I feel strong, like nothing could ruin this journey for me, and I can conquer the world, one passport stamp at a time.
Everyday I’m told by strangers I’m “brave.” Brave to be traveling outside of my home in the states. Brave to be traveling the world alone. Brave to be traveling alone as a female, specifically. It is still a “man’s world” after all and there are many dangers for a solo young female backpacker like myself. The sheer audacity of such an act is so hard for a lot of people to understand. “But it’s so dangerous! Who will watch out for you?”
“Me” I always reply. “I will watch out for me.”
My response is my mantra I repeat over and over. I’m telling myself and them at the same time. Every time I say it, it becomes more real. I am, in fact, my own personal guide and watchdog simultaneously.
At least ten times a day this conversation occurs with strangers, depending on how social I have (or have not) been that day. Somedays I really haven’t felt like conversing with anyone at all, so I don’t. I’ll go find a coffee shop or a park and sit with my journal and a good book or I’ll go wander around with my headphones in. I love rocking out to my music while I get lost in a new place. Yesterday I listened to the 90s R&B station all day and danced along the streets of Barcelona to Boyz II Men and Michael Jackson. It was great and I’m sure I provided quite a few laughs for people watching my terrible rhythm while I jammed down the street. Glad I could make people laugh. Good! I’m here to entertain, always.
This process is already transformative and I’m only on week two. I’m learning to enjoy myself out and about all by lonesome- versus staying in the house like I habitually did at home. I crave the peaceful centered feeling I have when I am only with myself out in the world. It is so reparative. I find new places and have to navigate my way around and learn how to communicate with people who do not speak English. (Mom, my Spanish is getting better!) I am healing everyday and when I take time away from all the noise, it speeds up the healing process. Sometimes I just need alone time with my brave, female self. She’s great, fun company and always knows what to do.
Getting my mind right, one day at a time.