Don’t be afraid to go solo: How I discovered the importance of occasionally traveling alone

Illustration of a woman carrying a sticker-covered suitcase and and standing in the middle of the road.
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In my mind, trips, be it day trips or multiday trips, are meant to be shared with people who make you happy and excited to explore the world around you. Beautiful experiences are meant to be shared, whether that be seeing the Golden Gate Bridge for the first time or driving cross country.

This past week was stressful for me. I had multiple essays due on the same day and I was missing my family and friends from home, but the most stressful thing for me was that I was feeling suffocated because I was too busy to leave my apartment.

I’m not much of a homebody. When I’m at home, I’m happiest spending my weekends out and about: at the beach, walking around downtown and discovering fun, new places to see. Since moving back to Berkeley I’ve greatly missed these outings, so I decided to treat myself after a rough week. I considered inviting my roommates to come along, but I had an epiphany: Maybe I should date myself for a day. 

After securing my transportation, I drove to get Puerto Rican food from a place my mom begged me to try, and then I cruised over to Baker Beach in San Francisco. Although the public transportation in the Bay Area is really convenient and affordable, driving into the city felt liberating, especially after being confined to a few hundred square feet for months. 

It was a gloomy and cloudy day, but the beauty was still indescribable. Being from Southern California, I’ve never appreciated or cared for gloomy weather until I moved to the Bay and experienced firsthand how gorgeous and alluring it is. 

From the beach, the Golden Gate Bridge looked so close, its red arches peeking out under waves of thick, white clouds. The bridge looked mystical and mysterious, which set the tone perfectly with Halloween quickly approaching.

Among the people enjoying the gloomy weather with their friends and family (there was even a wedding going on), I sat alone on a log and listened to some music while I people-watched — one of my favorite activities to do when I go out. It filled me with pleasure to see humans enjoying life and the company of their loved ones amid the pandemic. 

For a second, I regretted going out on this excursion alone. But the more I looked around at the nature around me, felt the breeze kiss my face and listened to the waves crash on the shore, I realized I needed this moment of solitude to just exist in peace without having to exist in reaction to the people around me. 

On the drive back, I blasted my favorite songs on the stereo and sang along without worrying that I sounded bad or that I was annoying my passengers. I didn’t dread coming back to my small apartment because I felt rejuvenated. For the first time, I felt really comfortable being alone in public with myself. 

Sometimes I love de-stressing by enjoying the comfort of my loved ones, but this past weekend I learned that being alone doesn’t mean I’m lonely. I realized that solitude is not a negative word and that, to me, means peace. So the next time you feel like you need to get out and explore, consider going alone!

Contact Özge Terzioğlu at [email protected].