The summer after my high school graduation, I was broken up with by a boy who I later learned was the complete opposite of what I wanted, but I never saw that until he released me.
I say “released” because this breakup was the beginning of a monumental transformation, one where something would emerge from within me. A dawning of sorts—one where I would become acquainted with my spirit and find exhilarating clarity.
Initially, after the split, I was in shock. I truly had no idea it was coming. But after hearing, “I never saw what you saw in him” from a few too many people, I realized it was true. He did not align with my spirit whatsoever.
I had been blindfolded with a desire to be loved, failing to realize that all I needed to do was remove the blindfold and look within.
And so, as some people do when trying to make sense of a breakup, I chopped off my hair. I felt the need to go somewhere, to do something, but no one could come with me. Then something just clicked in my brain; I didn’t need to wait for a partner or friend to come along with me on a trip of a lifetime—I could do it all on my own.
So, a couple of weeks before my anticipated trip, I did some research. I booked hotels, reserved camping grounds, and set off to Canada, 18 years old and naïve, with Banff National Park as my destination.
I drove for as long as 12 hours a day, but I never felt lonely or bored. My head was the clearest it’s ever been. What people don’t often see as a benefit of solo road tripping is that you literally have hours of nothing to do but think. Some people feel uncomfortable in their own heads and are frightened of being alone and what they might find there. But I was rejoicing in introverted heaven.
I contemplated just about every little thing in my life.
I could go on and on about the benefits of traveling alone (like getting to choose what you want to eat for every meal and creating your own agenda), but the main takeaway from this trip was that a part of me came out that I had suppressed—a part that was buried deep beneath childhood trauma and anxiety. A part that I never believed I could let out, because I didn’t believe I mattered.
Alone for the first time, in a completely new place, I was able to truly be myself. I was able to be who I wanted strangers to see me as. A person who was confident, comfortable alone, and courageous. I never knew this about myself before this trip, but there, with no one but my true buried self, I saw how I didn’t need anyone by my side in order for me to be that version of myself.
I learned that by embracing being alone, by pushing through the awkward and uncomfortable and even uneasy parts—like camping alone in the alpine wilderness—you find a part of yourself you can love so much more. A wonderful, fun, and loving part you never knew existed and won’t let go of after meeting her.
So, if something doesn’t feel right, maybe you need to do that thing you always dreamed of. Or maybe do what scares you the most. You might just meet the part of you that’s been missing.