Tag: independence

Solo and Single: Travel and Relationships

Solo and Single: Travel and Relationships

 – Traveling and Leaving a Relationship Behind –

Quitting your job, giving up your living space, putting your belongings into storage, selling or parking your car, and saying goodbye to the people you care about; these are the scary first steps to becoming a nomad and a vagabond. One thing I wasn’t ready to do before I left was to leave my relationship at the gate, but some time on my own in a strange new place quickly showed me that I had to do so if I wanted to really embrace my new adventures. Beginning to travel and live abroad is sometimes an emotionally complicated process, especially when you have strong ties to the place you’re leaving behind. I don’t think I truly realized how strong those ties were until I had severed them, but I knew immediately, and I still know now, that I made the right choices and I am happy with who I am because of them. Image of sunrise at Tiger Cave Temple in Krabi, Thailand

It was January 2017 when I flew from Toronto, Ontario to Phuket, Thailand. I was about to begin a 6-month program teaching English and earning my ESL certifications. The future was looking brighter than I had ever imagined it could, but it was also very uncertain. I knew I was going to Thailand, but I did not know if I would visit other countries while I was overseas. I knew that I would be overseas for 6 months, but I did not know if I would go back to Canada when those 6 months ended.  I knew my contract was for 6 months, but I did not know if I would get another job straight away and create a new life for myself overseas. All of the possibilities for where my life was going were incredibly exciting, and I was embracing the unpredictability of it all, but I wondered how much of my old life I would have to put to rest in order to make the most of my experiences.

By February, I had decided that 6 months in Thailand would turn into 3 months and then 3 months in Laos because of school holidays in Thailand and an offer I received for teaching Novice Monks in Luang Prabang. With all of my plans constantly shifting, I knew that I needed to devote all of my time and attention to what I wanted for myself.

So, what was it that I would have to leave behind? What would I have to put to rest? Well, primarily my relationship. After seeing each other for a year and a half, I ended my relationship with one of the most compassionate and supportive people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing; and I am better for it.Image showing my past relationship. My ex-boyfriend and I kissing on New Year's eve 2017, less than a week before I left for Thailand.

Ending my relationship was not a decision I made lightly. We had been through a lot together and we really did suit each other so well. He had been my rock while I had to move houses three times in one year, one of which being into his apartment. He encouraged me while I changed jobs for the first time in two years and then had to change jobs again 6 months later. I had been a rollercoaster and somehow, he managed never to question whether he wanted to be along for the ride. He had known that eventually, I would be heading overseas. He was excited for me and proud of me for doing what would make me happy. When I left, it was with the intent to maintain a long-distance relationship and eventually, for us to travel together.

As I mentioned, few of my original plans stayed intact. I was constantly adapting and my plan for our relationship had to adapt as well. Through the decision to end my relationship, these are some of the most prevalent things I have come away with:

  1. Total Independence

I have always been an independent person. I’m used to looking out for myself and doing what I have to in order to achieve my goals. I realized, however, that in taking my life in this new direction, it had to be by myself. I had to truly learn how to be alone and focus solely on my ambitions. Being totally self-reliant and focused has led me to my choice to stay overseas past my initial 6-month contract. It has led me to form new friendships and network connections which have provided me with insight and experiences that are extraordinarily helpful in furthering my career and my personal development.

  1. A Clean SlateImage of myself in front of Big Buddha in Phuket, Thailand, February 2017

Even though I quite like who I am, I am keen to learn and grow as a person. I wondered who I would become through all of these new adventures and I thought that to truly start anew, I needed to completely cut my ties to my old life. Of course, there is still my family and I still keep in touch with old friends, but none of my decisions are based whatsoever on the impact they will have on these people. There was just no way to maintain that objectivity while in a relationship. Recognizing the necessity of starting from scratch was arguably the best thing I have done for myself. It has allowed me to create this life, exactly as I please, and enjoy where I am with the pride that I got here entirely by my own devices.

  1. Time

Not that my relationship wasn’t worth dedicating time to because it was worth it while it was the main thing bringing me joy and comfort. However, when I embarked on this new journey, my priorities changed from how I interact with the people around me to how I interact with myself. It’s the classic analogy of putting on your own oxygen mask before helping others with theirs: I have to put the time into furthering my career and my personal growth so that I can comfortably dedicate time and effort to the people and causes that I care about later. Once I began to reassess how I would spend my time, I immediately noticed how much more effective I was in my work and how much more I enjoyed my solitary free time. With teaching and freelancing, my time is spread very thin, I am always working, but I enjoy my work so much that it would actually be a sacrifice to take the time to maintain a relationship. A relationship just isn’t right for me at this point in my career and that actually feels rather liberating.

  1. Self-Appreciation

Every day is something new for me, with new knowledge, new experiences, new people, and new places. Every day I learn, I grow, and I look at where I am with amazement. I have not been this happy in my whole life and possibly for the first time in my life, this happiness has come from my choices and my actions. So much of what I have said may sound selfish, with all of the “I’m only looking out for me” sentiments, and maybe it is selfish. If I’m honest, I am completely okay with this brand of selfishness. This kind of selfishness is acknowledging that I am worth the effort. I’m a strong and courageous person who is deserving of this dedication. Learning to truly love and appreciate myself has had a profound effect on me that will undoubtedly lead me to have healthier relationships in the future and to love and care for people at no detriment to myself any longer.Image of myself in Khao Sok National Park, Thailand in January 2017

Change is exciting, but it is also daunting. There are days where it’s overwhelming to always be playing things by ear and thinking on my feet. Sometimes I miss having someone by my side, cheering me on. When I feel this way, I look to my friends, new and old, and my family. I’m blessed to have a lot of wonderful people in my corner with such faith and pride in me. I’ve come to know that uncertainty builds character and I am not weak for feeling unsure, I am strong for acting in spite of it.