This post isn’t meant to take away from my experience in Europe. My two months in Europe were incredible. Getting lost and aimlessly wandering through streets and taking the wrong turn via maps, foreign languages I didn’t understand, talking to the different servers, baristas, bartenders, and all the random people I may never see again– karaoke, ruin pubs, museums, cathedrals! However, there were definitely times of extreme loneliness. This post is about different circumstances where I’ve faced loneliness recently before, during, and after traveling, and how I’ve managed to cope with it.
While traveling I met a lot of people, but I feel like I may have made 3 true friends in Europe I saw more than once in 2 months. I thought life was pretty single serving, but now that its all in the past I look back and have so much gratitude for all the people I met while abroad and the random conversations, laughs, drinks, or travel stories we shared. I think not being so caught up in whether its single serving or whether its going to last and simply practicing gratitude for the encounters is what will divert the feelings of loneliness both while out and afterwards at home while traveling. Not everyone you meet is going to become your new closest buddy, so not being concerned with what is out of your control is what will allow for total absorption of the present moment.
Before I had left Vegas in February, I had been rehabilitating my knee for the previous 6 months. At first, the first 3 months, August- October, were horrible because I literally saw noone except doctors and physical therapists unless the occasional friend visited me, but the next 3 became so rewarding as I had adjusted and even started to enjoy my solitude. I had read and worked out constantly, started this blog, and was more or less just daydreaming for when I would go abroad and earn my CELTA. While I was lonely I had found a happy and healthy rhythm, and remained so positive and hopeful for what my time would be like abroad.
When I was abroad the first two weeks in Barcelona were incredible. I was in the same mode that I had been in before. I was happy with myself, my habits of blogging, eating healthy, and still hopeful that the CELTA course, teaching, and moving to Europe would be as amazing as it had been so far. Eventually I ended up learning that I would just not vibe with my colleagues. Going up to sit with them on the terrace, never venture out and try different restaurants, and listen to the same seemingly forced and fake conversations were just not something I wanted to do. I only felt like part of the group with them through inclusion, but not because any of them actually liked me or were interested in anything I had to say. The feelings were mutual though for the most part 🙂
I spent a lot of time eating by myself at school, in cafes or hookah bars by myself, or wandering the city by myself. I let my feelings of loneliness manifest into inadequacy and even cynicism. My healthy habits were soon replaced by shisha, drinking, and eating out everyday. (On a side note, Wow do I want some Patatas Bravas and croquetas right now with a glass of Estrella De Galicia!)
I would make friends on weekends and have loads of fun, but I would always have to go back to my language school and mingle with a bunch of people I didn’t like 8 hours a day. Walking into the school was devastating at times. Although it brought me down it would only take a walk along Barcelonetta or seeing someone genuine over the weekend to assist me in restoring my spirits before having them crushed again the following Monday morning.
After the course ended and I was making plans to see a few of my friends in Barcelona before moving on to Budapest, and it reminded me of what an incredible month it had been. All the conversations I had with different servers at My Favorite Spots in Barcelona. The two genuine friends I made that would include me in future events opposed to being another fleeting encounter. I may have felt lonely in both cities at times, but it didn’t stop me from putting myself out there and experiencing as much as I could. Although I was around people I didn’t like the majority of the time in school, and it caused me to have a worse image of myself because I didn’t fit in, it allowed me to appreciate the people I did fit in with when I did meet them. I just always was the authentic version of myself. I talk about writing, traveling, movies, EDM, languages etc. If we vibe thats awesome if not, oh well, sigh, but not gonna sweat it.
Feelings of loneliness will always snowball if they aren’t dealt with. In Budapest I was purely on vacation and didn’t have to work, so had that same initial feeling of joy by myself I felt in Barcelona before I had to deal with my colleagues. I felt lonely, but in a new environment the novelty sparked my adventurous side and I felt more enthused opposed to reluctant while in explorer mode during the day or get drunk and talk to random people mode at night. Seeing Jason Mraz for the 3rd time was also magical. Phoneless Pharaohing Part 3– Jason Mraz Concert in Budapest
Now that I’ve been back for 2 weeks I had been feeling different from before I had left. My diet which once was an inspiration is now an abomination. I’ve gained 5 pounds of the 35 I lost from being a garbage disposal abroad and drinking a lot. I’m hoping some of it is muscle mass being gained back in my atrophied leg, but know that a lot of it is from being unhealthy. I haven’t been reading like I used to and have been sulking while doing job apps in Asia because I’m lonely after having been abroad for the last two months. I was turned down for a school in Japan after 3 interviews and signing contracts, so I’m pretty frustrated about that as well, but oh well, on to the next one! And for reading I will read the Idiot by Dostoyevsky next.
I’ve started going on daily walks in the morning for about an hour. Just going outside and feeling the wind on my cheek or the cicadas buzzing can really change my state and also spark a feeling I can translate into a poem. Nature and writing are two key ingredients in alchemism and can help me transform my disdain of Isolation to gratitude for solitude.
Its also got me to thinking that while I’m figuring out my working situation over the next two months that I should use this precious time to continue investing in the relationship with myself. I’m lonely as a homebody unlike I was before, but I can be an appreciative, healthy, and productive instead of one nostalgic stuck in the past self destructing. The best reminder that we’re not alone is the massage of the soothing wind sitting alone at a park, or the rustling of the leaves. I know that I will feel lonely again in the future, but only by doing things that make me happy and looking forward to the future is how I will conquer it.
Like I was looking forward to Barcelona and Europe before, it looks like my only possible option might be Cambodia for a year until I can get somethings sealed off my record. If thats the case their school year starts in July, so I want to leave in June and yolo it and see if I can find work. Think I could definitely use some good luck somewhere down the road this year. Its been fun, but I still feel stuck as I’ve been in pretty much the exact same spot the last year after quitting poker. If I do go to Cambodia in June I can call it another couple months of spiritual/knee rehab, reading, blogging, and getting ready again for another attempt to relocate. Also am looking to get into free lancing on skype. That could be really convenient and a good way to gain experience.
The long term goal is still To Japan, though. Hopefully in the next year or so 🙂 Wish me luck guys.