I have always wanted to be independent; to do things myself and take the lead, master of my own path. Funnily enough, I always question it midway. Do I really want to be alone? Charging ahead, deciding things without anyone else. It’s a lonely path, but the resulting freedom is sweet to the tongue.
I spent the last week mostly alone, on long tram rides that hummed with an electrical buzz to my destinations. I made lists, crossed things off my lists, and made new lists. Covid rates amongst the students were increasing every day, and the extracurricular activities for this week were completely canceled. All reasons were pointing to my destined solitude. It was enjoyable for the first couple of days, and then I started to become bored with myself. Many say that you should be friends with yourself first; that if you’re unable to stand yourself then other people won’t either (or you can replace friends with love). Alone time is also important for introspection and mindfulness, although there’s a point where it becomes too much. Like many things, loneliness is something people get used to over time. Standing amongst hundreds of different flora and plants in the botanical garden, I wondered if I was caught up too deep in my own mind, losing the freedom I wanted so badly in the first place.
What’s the right choice? To me, situations like these are dependent on balance. One’s not better than the other. Phases are transitory, and it’s normal to have highs and lows. My experience taught me this. Problem was, I was still wary about the whole covid thing, and by week two people have already formed little groups. I felt the urge to slide back into my shell in comforting darkness. However, the days were passing faster than I could keep track of. I wanted every day to be a day so jam-packed with memories that I couldn’t keep track of them, but the days started to lose themselves in between my fingers. There’s no time like the present, and over the years, I’ve gotten better about my passivity and anxiety over putting myself out there. You never know what will happen, so you have to create opportunities for yourself. I believe that with others, we are more than the sum of our parts. That’s why companionship is important, abroad or not.
That’s how I ended up in Copenhagen, Denmark, with another student I barely know on perhaps five hours of sleep after an unfortunate wake-up call from hotel bed bug bites. I woke up with one still on my shirt, and although I knew the correct course of action (which was to photograph all evidence), I panicked and spent the next half hour frantically googling if I was going to need medical attention (the answer being no; bed bugs are usually harmless) and then dissociating from the rather unpleasant experience. The cleanliness of the hotel was questionable at best, and I regretted missing the several reviews warning guests of bedbugs while I was searching for dozens of different hotels. I had searched up many prices and places and thought this hotel was the best given its location and price. I thought I could sacrifice cleanliness, but as a neat freak, I really couldn’t (although, to be completely fair, any hotel can have the possibility of bed bugs, even five-star ones). Next time, I will maybe spend a little more money or time to find something that is a bit nicer. When traveling, some money can’t help but be spent, but it’s been a challenge for me to be willing to do that, especially when I have budget goals. However, if you spend all your time worrying about money—say, all by yourself touring a big city flanked by sparkling water—you lose some enjoyment. I learned that it’s nice and probably necessary to get out of your own head when you find yourself aimless, and will try to push myself out of my comfort zone for the next couple of weeks.