Preface: I started writing this post while roadtripping to Oklahoma, in October 2016.
Today two women who crossed my path commented on the fact that I was traveling alone. Sometimes I don’t even realize that I’m alone. I mean, I know I’m not with anyone else but it doesn’t feel like anything out of the ordinary that it warrants commenting. Ya know?
And of course I can’t help but wonder if men are engaged in the same way in the same venues. If you’re standing in a highway rest stop having a drink and stretching your legs – do people comment on the fact that you’re alone? If you were in Siberia or something, I could see it. But in “civilization”?
One of the women went on to tell me that she admired me and wished that she could just pack up and go wandering. But… ::heavy sigh::… she just can’t find the time because of work. Here’s the thing, though. Everybody’s busy. We’ve all got jobs and families and pets and sick loved ones. Can you wander for a day? An afternoon? An hour? We choose how much busy we want to carry on with, we choose our own prisons and we can choose to taste freedom in varying degrees and doses.
Sometimes I think we use busy as a crutch so that we don’t have to be alone with ourselves and our thoughts. We just might discover how boring we are and how little we know about what we like to do for pure pleasure. That’s a tangent for another day though, I think.
The thing I always wonder about after such exchanges with strangers – what is it that keeps women from traveling on their own? If I told a woman that traveling solo was something only men were “allowed” to do, they’d probably be outraged. But that’s exactly what so many are telling themselves. What is it that we’re taught from the time we’re little girls that keeps us paired off? Why are we conditioned this way? And more importantly, how do we undo it? How do we help women who are curious about solo travel get out there and try it?
Perhaps it’s a generational thing. Maybe my 40-something generation will be the last of the nail-biters to sit around wishing instead of doing. With media being what it is, girls coming up these days have so many accessible examples of ass-kicking women who are out there honey badgering their way through life.
I wish everyone was able to find their own power and greatness. It’s time to stop smothering our personal joy with fear and self-doubt.