Life Beyond the "Life Changing" Solo TripFriday, May 16, 2014
Editor's Note: Sole Sister Rica has been an expat in Singapore for almost 2 years before she decided to go on her first solo adventure. Only a few months ago, she left the corporate world to realize one of her biggest dreams: to travel all over Southeast Asia. But only a few weeks in, she had to cut her trip short. Read her story:
It was the last night of my solo trip across Saigon and Siem Reap. The late night breeze at the airport kept me company while I drifted in-and-out of sleep on the cold, metal bench with only my backpack as a pillow and shawl as a blanket. I was thankful for the down time to finish my book and muse before my flight back to Singapore or in other words, reality.
Sometimes passion has multiple lovers.
Subconsciously I expected my first solo trip to change my life; to ironically give me both a temporary escape from reality and a magical eureka moment that I was looking for to help me take the road less traveled by - a path in pursuit of my own human truth. Because 10 years later, I did not want to feel ‘wasted’ or ‘regret’ about the choices I did not take. Yes, I was restless, which is why I was excited to use that pent up energy for traveling instead of worrying about my future.
But what I discovered was not typically ‘life changing.’
I was witness to both Saigon's progress and my own.
Indeed I felt free, happy, and at peace, but surprisingly it wasn’t an unfamiliar feeling.
While I wasn’t intending to socialize during my trip, my ‘me time’ was interrupted when I met this wise French backpacker whom I kept crossing paths with. It was a timely encounter, as the conversation we shared over a few rounds of beers concluded my not-so-life-changing-epiphany during this trip.
Before I could answer, he said that happiness is contentment. But nowadays, people forget what this means, he said, because we always want more --- money, power and success.
Can I be both?
By this time I knew that my first solo trip wasn’t typically life changing. Rather, the long days of solitude gave me the space to be honest with what I already knew to be true. It was the kind of self-actualization that persists over time, yet did not surprise me once it arrived.
Now that I’ve transitioned back to reality I feel more at ease. I don’t need to be on the road to experience freedom or independence. I know that life beyond a ‘life changing solo trip’ is to keep making it life changing.
The adventure doesn’t have to end when you get back to reality.
I need to continue exploring the uncharted and often challenging territories of my life with the same sense of wonder and mindfulness that I have while traveling. I know that it’s ultimately my choice to pursue what I really want: to balance my love for traveling and ambition to succeed and constantly learn in my career. It’s possible to have both.
So wherever I go, whatever I do in my next career move--- I will be happy and grateful. I will find the simple serendipities during the daily grind that will keep me balanced and happy.
Sole Sister Rica
Rica is a 'foreign filipina,' born in Indonesia and raised in the Philippines. She writes beyond the border, for people who want to travel or work abroad. Recently she left her corporate job, and is now travelling around SEA before starting her next chapter in chasing her dreams. Moving abroad starts her journey to experience the world. Follow her adventure on Foreign Filipina.
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