Welcome to the holiday season! The next few weeks will (most likely) be filled with family obligations, traditions you can’t talk your way out of, and travel nightmares. You’ve got time off from work, but you’ll need to find the best possible way to parcel it out between the different sides of your family to ensure that no one gets their feelings hurt.
Or, you could skip it altogether. I mean, it is your life. And, life is really short.
This year, I decided to skip the holiday altogether and do my own thing. I checked out, hit the road, and headed south. I needed some time on my own. My plan was to visit the National Parks of Southern Utah, take some photos, do some hiking, and spend some time getting to know myself. I haven’t done a lot of solo travel before, but I thought this would be good for me. This post might be premature, and I’m happy to come back and do a full report on how it ends up. But for now, here’s my advice/reasoning/rationale for checking out and making my next adventure a solo excursion.
You can’t wait for your friends or partner to agree on your plan.
I’m a fairly blunt person. Most of the time, I make a point not to speak in riddles, unless I’m flirting. (And even then…) I’m painfully and devastatingly honest. I will tell you what I want—which makes it so much worse when you fucking miss it. Still, though. You can’t sit around and wait for people to ‘get you.’ If you want to skip the holidays because they tend to break your heart, and you’ve told your partner this very fact over and over for the past few years, you might just have to skip them yourself and do your own thing.
You know what you want. (Or, you might not, but you’ve got to be the one to figure it out.)
No one can figure your life out for you. You’re the only one trapped inside of your messed up head. Therapists, doctors, and manipulative people will do their best. It’s taken me 34 years, and I just have this annoying, nagging feeling that the best advice I’ve gotten, “Lower Your Expectations,” can’t possibly be right. At least, it’s not right for me.
Setting your own agenda means taking responsibility for yourself.
So, you want to go wander the southwest and take some photos? Visit the national parks? Find that 5,000-year-old Bristlecone pine? Fine. Do it. But, that means you can’t go get a hotel and sleep in, cry your eyes out, feel sorry for yourself and be a hermit who’s too afraid to go eat at a restaurant by herself. Make a plan. Stick to it. Do it.
Being on your own gives you time to think.
People are really afraid of loneliness. I think this is funny, actually. It’s not so bad, I think. I’m so lonely in my real life sometimes, I think I might die and no one will notice. But, in practice, when I travel with another person, I end up cranky. I like to spend 99% of the time inside of my own head anyway. I get annoyed when they try to bring me out of it! I love to listen to my own music in the car. And sing out loud to it! I like stopping on the road, or not passing every car that I can just because we’re not winning if we don’t. I like skipping meals if I’m not hungry, too. I like going off in my mind and thinking about whatever I want, or looking through my photos and posting pics, texting friends, not talking for hours. It’s bliss…
You can pull over and take that stupid photograph your partner doesn’t want to wait on…
Yeah, you can do this without feeling too bad about it. Or, find that local, community live music event and listen to a band or two play. Take yourself to dinner and have a drink. Stare off into space.
You don’t always get chances like this. (Or, maybe you do and you’ll always be on your own, so you’d better get good at it.)
I realize anyone with kids right now probably hates me. You know what, it’s true. You won’t always get this chance. Women especially. We don’t have the luxury of walking out of our lives very often. Be brave. That’s all I can say. It sort of sucks. It’s not perfect. But try it.
“Be brave enough to break your own heart.” – Cheryl Strayed.