1. The world is not as scary as on TV.
From the moment we are born we are told the world is a scary place. Our parents main focus is to protect us. To keep us safe in this big universe of ours. They teach us not to talk to strangers, to not trust anyone except them, to be careful when we walk alone. We are programmed to be scared. And we can’t really blame them. Children are vulnerable, innocent and weak. Children are prey to all that is bad in the world.
But as we grow up we need to take upon ourselves the responsibility to unprogram our brains.
We need to turn off the news that constantly tell us about rapes and murders and blood.
There are 7 billion people in this world. If the majority was bad, humanity would have gone extinct a while ago. I am not saying there aren’t dangers in the world, I am saying the good far outweighs the dangers.
Most people will help you get to your destination without harming you. Most people will give you a ride without killing you. Most people are good.
Be smart. Follow your gut instinct. Be open to humans.
2. Loneliness is a human experience.
Loneliness is the one feeling I constantly experienced traveling alone. Yes, I was surrounded by people everywhere I went. I met amazing new friends that I know I will keep for many years. But a deep feeling of loneliness was part of my entire trip. I would mostly feel lonely when things went wrong or when I didn’t have anywhere to share my perfect moments with.
When a snake bit me I cried. Not because it was painful. But because there was no one there who cared about me to hold my hand.
When I watched the perfect sunset from the top of a cliff I had swam to and climbed at, I felt my eyes tear up. Not because I didn’t like what I was seeing, but because I didn’t have anyone to put my head against.
Loneliness is not permanent. It’s an experience that every human feels. Embrace it. Sit with it. Feel it. Like every other experience, loneliness is temporary. It will come and go, like it did throughout my trip.
Conquer it. Learn to live with it. And don’t ever date someone simply because you are afraid of it.
3. Control is limiting.
I am a very controlling person by nature. I make dozens of lists a day. Grocery list. Errands list. Meal list. Exercise list. I make lists for lists I need to make. That’s how bad I like to control my life.
Every time I cross a completed item off one of my lists, I feel a bit more accomplished. This is how I have always been. And as much as this OCD organization has kept my life on track, it has also held me back. For every item crossed off that gives me a sense of accomplishment throughout the day, an item left unfinished or incomplete gives me huge amounts of anxiety. If I have to push the car wash from Wednesday to Thursday, I spend at least an extra 30 minutes before before thinking about how I have to get it done this time no matter what. I will literally obsess about unfinished errands as if my life depended on it.
Traveling on my own, I decided to plan every detail of my trip so I wouldn’t find myself lost in Central America. I planned every day and every activity but every single plan went out the window the day I arrived in Costa Rica.
The flight was late and therefore I wasn’t able to visit the national museum in San Jose. The museum was the only reason I had planned a night in San Jose in the first place.
I was frustrated. I knew the trip was set to go to shit just because I missed one thing on my list.
Then something amazing happened.
Because I missed the museum, I went to dinner early instead. And there I met a German girl who was traveling to Nicaragua. She told me the public bus she was taking would pass through La Fortuna (where I was heading) and that I could join her if she wanted. I had originally planned on taking a private shuttle that would cost me $69. But because my flight was delayed and I missed the museum, I was now able to take a public bus that I didn’t even know existed for $5 instead.
And this is how every single day in Costa Rica went. From getting lost, to getting bitten by a snake, to meeting different different people with different plans who invited me to join in. Every day went completely different from what I had planned.
And it was so much better.
For the first time in my life I felt complete and utter freedom. And it felt amazing.
4. You can run. You can hide. But you can’t forget.
The second main reason I needed to get away and get away alone (besides to learn to embrace my loneliness), was to forget. Forget a guy I had fallen in love with. Forget my life. Forget my problems.
I ran. I hid. But I didn’t forget.
The problems kept consuming my mind. My life was still the same, but in a different continent. And the guy I wanted to forget, kept creeping up in my mind every time I saw something beautiful or experienced something amazing.
In the end, we need to learn to be alone. We are born alone and we are buried alone. There is no reason to attach us so much to others in the mean time.
Those who care, cares.
Those who don’t, just don’t.
5. We need connection not things.
This trip reminded me how much I love third world countries. It’s such a reality check. It’s grounding. It’s refreshing. The simplicity in Costa Rica reminded me that we don’t need the most expensive cars, and latest iPhones and iPads and brand name clothes. We don’t need all this crap. It only distance is from ourselves. We don’t need tinder and countless dates with shallow conversations with people we don’t even like because we are trying to fill a void we don’t even know we have. We need nature and real human connection beyond the screen of our phones. We need fresh fruits and real food. We need home grown vegetables and chickens.
There is poverty and hunger all around us. There is injustice and oppression all over the world. Every single person reading this is privileged. We did nothing to be born in the country we did to families we did and away from war and hunger. You didn’t earn these life events. It was pure luck.
Quit being entitled. Be grateful.