Tag Archives: courage

Learning To Be Alone

24 Apr

Hello, dear readers!

Well, believe it or not, I have just come back from yet ANOTHER awesome trip! This time to the Netherlands to visit my friend, the infamous Gillian, then off to Denmark for some solo travel. I just wanted it to be simple & relaxing, which it totally was!

However, upon announcing this trip I was faced with the same questions I always get when I travel alone: Why are you going by yourself? Won’t you be lonely? Don’t you want to share this with somebody else?

And I can completely understand where these questions are coming from because I, myself, used to ask them. 

While studying abroad I would meet people in hostels who had been traveling alone for MONTHS & it blew my mind! I asked them the same line of questions & their answers made no sense to me.

It wasn’t until I was literally forced to partake in solo travel that I learned just how incredible it can be.

(Statue selfie during my first solo travel trip to Vienna!)

I was living in Prague & applying for my Czech working visa. In order to get the visa I had to travel to the Czech embassy in another country. The company scheduling the appointment let me know that my appointment was in Vienna, Austria for the following Wednesday at 9:00am.

Since it was a work day & very last minute, none of my friends would be able to join me. I panicked. Would I get lost?! Would I be safe?! Not to mention Mama G was freaking out.

It was then that I realized I would just have to plan, prepare & book the ticket!

The travel & navigation went off without a hitch, my hostel was cute & the appointment went well. Afterwards I had a few hours to explore before my bus back to Prague, so I decided to venture to Schonbrunn Palace.

I spent the next couple hours walking around the palace’s massive gardens alone in a state of awe. It was almost meditative. And I realized how relaxed I was on my own exploring a new place. I wasn’t scared & I definitely wasn’t lonely. It was at that moment that I was completely sold on the idea of solo travel!

(Having a stranger take a photo of me in the “I” from the “IAmsterdam” sign!)

It’s not surprising that I would enjoy solo travel because I have always thought of myself as an extremely extroverted introvert. I equally enjoy the company of others & being alone. It’s a balance & something I have learned to grow into.

And I think we all kinda are.

When you are young you value quantity. The more friends you have, the better. Popularity can only be calculated in numbers & the larger your friend group is, the more people sitting at your lunch table, or asking you to hang out, the more you feel valued.

But as you grow you learn to instead appreciate quality. 

Your friend circle may decrease a bit when you realize who actually has your back. And suddenly the number doesn’t have to be so high.

It’s the same with romantic relationships.You eventually realize that a quality relationship is the most important type of relationship.

This is part of maturing & learning to be more comfortable in your own skin–which is exactly what solo travel helps one do as well!

Because the more I travel alone, the more I realize how much I enjoy it. Of course I like adventuring with loved ones, but seeing a city on your own is something that is so liberating.

Not only do you have absolute freedom to plan your own itinerary, but you can literally be anyone you want to be. You can be a social butterfly making as many new friends as possible or you can be a pensive loner, opting instead to venture to landmarks by yourself.

Plus, in a way, solo travel can sometimes put extroverts completely out of their comfort zone.

Instead of having long conversations with others, or relying on someone else to plan activities…you are forced to experience things all on your own. You also have time to reflect on any emotions or things you have mentally been running from; it’s quite therapeutic!

(Solo travel in Budapest allowed me to meet so many cool new friends!)

On my solo trip to the Netherlands & Denmark I did so many things alone that I would be too afraid to do alone here in the U.S. Like go to a restaurant alone, go to a park alone, even go to an amusement park alone!

And guess what? I still had so much fun even though I was by myself.

I wondered why don’t I ever do things like this alone at home? Because I’m worried about being judged by others, or concerned about looking like I have no friends?

That’s so dumb. 

So I have been actively trying to do more things on my own, & not just when I’m on vacation.

I, of course, am always down to do things with friends. But for too long I have avoided activities, events, parties, opportunities simply because I didn’t have a companion to accompany me. 

And I missed out on SO much!

So now I have no problem buying one museum ticket, one concert ticket, or one theater ticket. And you know what, dear readers? I don’t just use the protective shield of my phone to make it look like I was blown off, but I am actually enjoying the experience. 

There was a specific moment on my trip where I realized just how important this lesson was.

It was my last day of vacation & I decided to go to Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen a.k.a. the 2nd oldest amusement park IN THE WORLD. It was a once in a lifetime experience.

I originally planned to just walk around the park, but decided at the last moment to buy an unlimited rider pass for the attractions. It was a bit awkward at first, being alone surrounded by children & families.

But I love amusement park rides & I hate missing out so I rode every single ride. I laughed until I had tears in my eyes & smiled until my face hurt.

I got to cut all the lines since I was a single rider & even sat in the front row of the park’s insane roller coaster! Of course it would have been nice to share the experience with someone else, but I didn’t HAVE anyone else so I just went for it!

(Single rider selfie in Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen!)

Solo travel has taught me so much about myself & all that I’m capable of. It has helped me become more introspective & so self aware. And you know what, dear readers? I realized just how truly independent I am. And this lesson transcends more than traveling, it actually says a lot about my relationships with others.

For example: I have officially been single for a while & it used to be hard. I was lonely & craving human companionship. I went back to my grade-school “quantity” fixated self instead of caring about quality. The result was a few people who just weren’t good matches that I was using to fill a void.

Now I have become much more content with my single self & trust that things will work out how they’re supposed to.

And you know what? I don’t even feel “alone” because I’m really not. I am surrounded by so much beauty in the form of loved ones, a fantastic job & new adventures that are always on the horizon! And I am happy with that. 

(The elderly couple who took this photo told me I was so “brave”, I told them I just wanted to see Copenhagen!)

They say you must learn to love yourself before you can love others & I truly believe this. I also think you don’t need to be dependent on someone else for your own happiness. So consider this: how many wonderful things have you missed out on or postponed because of others?

How many times have you said “maybe next year”, “maybe someday”, “maybe when I find someone”?

Do yourself a favor & don’t let that happen anymore.

Stop waiting for your friends to save up to join you on a trip, & stop waiting to find a significant other to take all these dream vacations with. Because “maybe next year” could go on for a long time & soon, before you know it, you’ll be looking back on a life full of regrets.

If you learn to be comfortable with the idea of being alone & solo travel, I promise that life will gift you with so many new friends, memories & adventures waiting around every corner.

You just have to be willing to book that ticket.

JG 🙂



Head First, Fearless

11 Aug

I knew this day would come. The day where I would be forced to stop clinging to friends during shopping trips or supervisors during bar crawls. When I would actually have to decipher the super scary Czech streets/public trans stops on my own.

Today was that day.

A few days ago I applied to 4 jobs. Most were ‘privileged’ preschools around Prague aka: you don’t go to just color, eat pb & j and learn your ABCs. No, at these schools you eat organic snacks, learn dance, cooking, art, sports and have a daily yoga lesson. Yes, you read that correct, they want 4 year olds to downward dog it.

Needless to say, I applied to these jobs immediately. I’d like to think that by harnessing a child’s creativity at such a young age allows them to flourish, plus I bet my salary would be pretty decent too 😉

So I sent my resume, and a totally heartfelt cover letter and pressed ‘Send’ with an instinctive sense of doubt. I was already well prepared for rejection or, more likely, to be completely ignored. Our economy really scars a recent college grad-Thanks, America! 

But then something AMAZING happened. They responded! Or more importantly–they told me to come in for a personal interview 2 days later! I almost died. This of course sent me into a nervous frenzy. Do I have to prepare a lesson? What do I wear? Will they like me? What are they looking for?! and the #1 concern…



(Above: the Prague bus map. Doesn’t look toooo hard right?)

Then, I got to work. I prayed there was a nearby metro aka the least terrifying form of public trans. No such luck. Well, what about a tram? Trams are okay, I have taken those before…nope, no trams. But wait, there’s hope. There’s a bus. Aka: a hot, dirty, smelly vehicle full of people who look like they want to hurt me. Oh my God.

Now, my distaste for buses does not come from never using them. It’s coming from practically living in them for 4 years. When you hate driving as much as I do, you learn to deal with public trans reeeeal fast. While I was studying at Roger Williams University, I never brought my car, Owen. So I was forced to take the RIPTA. The RIPTA scars you. Why? Because there’s people who urinate on themselves, people who ask if you want to hear a song they wrote about their dead father, people who dress like zombies for no reason, and people en route to Kennedy Plaza aka: an open-air http://www.peopleofwalmart.com in the middle of Providence.

You wouldn’t even believe my stories from going to do the lottery or to my internship. Terrifying.

So, I thought that because Prague is way bigger than Providence, the bus situation would be even worse. Thankfully, I was wrong.

The buses are SO NICE. They have semi-AC, multiple comfy chairs, and flatscreen tvs that list the upcoming stops. I loved it! Of course, you better sit down and hold on tight unless you want to fall over, but I can live with this!

So I somehow figured out that I had to take the 117 bus to the end of the line. No problem. To get to lottery I had to take the 60 to Providence for 40mins (if there was no traffic) then switch to the 54 to Woonsocket for 25mins. And there was always the occasional late bus, bus full of screaming babies or 300lb women taking up the first 3 seats. And sometimes you get stranded in the rain, snow, or have to walk 3 miles. The RIPTA made me a survivor. 


(Above: Casual zombie on the bus. Gotta love Rhode Island public trans)

So I walked up to the bus stop and waited for the 177. To my surprise it arrived perfectly on time! Once on board I was able to relax for the next 26mins to my stop. Once there, I (somehow) encountered not only friendly Czech people, but Czech people who SPOKE ENGLISH. The first lady showed me the correct street, the second lady showed me the direction of the school (which I, of course, walked right by. Twice.), and the third lady was my guardian angel. 

After asking her in Czech if she spoke English, she smiled but shook her head ‘no’. But instead of most people, who would have kept walking, she put her People-esque magazine down, put the half-eaten bread in her purse and she helped me. I tried to mime out what I was looking for, but gave up and just showed her the address. She looked confused. We were on the street. So close!

Then I just pointed to the name, Sunny Garden Pre-school.

“Ahh! Sunny Garden!” she said in her thick accent. (After you travel for a while dealing with language barriers you will realize that there is absolutely no better feeling than the eureka! moment when a foreign person understands you)

She then proceeded to grab my hand and lead me to the building I had been circling. After thanking her profusely, she was on her way.

So, dear readers, today’s moral of the story: face your fears. Aside my all my stupid phobias including escalators, fire, bugs crawling on me while I sleep, needles, driving, thunderstorms…getting stranded in an unfamiliar place is #1.

It definitely takes a lot of courage to step on a random bus to go search for an unknown destination with no cell phone/way of communication/Google Maps. But this makes you think. Being thrown into such situations gives you street smarts and, as nerdy as this sounds, It felt pretty liberating. Realizing you are capable of so much more than you ever thought. You also have to rely on the kindness of strangers who help you realize that everything is going to be okay!


(Above: Inside the Prague Bus #177)

Now I have to go plan a demo lesson for tomorrow. My interview is at 8am!

Wish me luck 🙂