One of the most private things I’m willing to admit is how much my personality leans to the lonely side. Travel has done much to both exacerbate and relieve this.
With only yourself for company, in the right light it seems easy to entertain, to comfort and to enjoy yourself, and solo travel is just perfect for that. You can see the exhibitions you want, go to the shows you know you’d enjoy, look at the architecture you love, all without having to consult another person. Self-contained entertainment. Responsible for only yourself.
Life is better when it’s shared. Laughter shared is laughter squared (I just made that up, but I think it’ll catch on – bear with me). My best memories are the ones I can share with the people who were in them, and we can reminisce, shaking our heads at our brilliance, or often our folly.
I’ve made a conscious decision (in part as a result of moving to the other side of the world and the reality of “starting over”) to live as much as I can, to enjoy life as much as I can, and to surround myself with people who make me feel joyous. My decision to leave Australia has meant that I forfeited a tribe. Not the only tribe I will ever have, but the tribe I joined by osmosis. I didn’t have to try so hard to make friends when I was at home. I went to university, I was thrust into friend-generating situations without much effort on my side of things, and there they suddenly were: people with whom I had a shared history, shared memories, and a shared future.
In England I’ve had to cultivate that. It’s taken three years of a concerted effort to reach. To reach for others and say “Here I am, come get to know me. Let’s have some fun”. Which I can honestly say is really bloody hard. It does get easier, and it does make you more resilient. But the loneliness is there, in the spaces between. Not always, admittedly, and to be perfectly honest I have engineered a life where the spaces are few and far between. I keep myself busy.
But in the spaces between, like this bank holiday Monday, where I’ve got odd jobs to do, but no one really to do it with, my friends and lovely partner living their own lives, I really feel that creeping loneliness. If I ignore it, it just makes it bigger and stronger. That’s a lesson to learn. Today I’m feeling lonely, but I’m going to accept the hell out of it. That’s how I conquer, by knowing it’s a part of me, but it passes.