So last time I posted a blog was over 2 months ago when I was anxiously and nervously sitting at LAX waiting to board the flight for my first solo trip. Well I’m happy to report that not only did I survive spending time with myself for 24 days, I absolutely loved it! Turns out I’m not as boring as I anticipated. I enjoyed my time so much that while I was in Costa Rica, I decided to cut myself off from the World Wide Web and social media so I can fully take advantage of my precious time alone and my surroundings instead of saturating my mind with internet nonsense. Ok fine, I limited my social media usage to just 1 Facebook post and 3 Instagram photos in 3 weeks, which was basically the same as being absent on social media. But anyways, after traveling with a significant other for 8 months, I needed to take the time to refresh my mind and remember what life is like without the comfort of having someone by your side to hold your hand, make you laugh, and provide safety and comfort.
To be honest, I did not know what to expect when I arrived in Costa Rica. The Spanish I took for 2 years during high school, which was 15 years ago, is practically non-existent. The ATMs at San Jose airport were all out of service and I forgot to bring US dollars so I couldn’t exchange for any local currency. And of course, of all airports I’ve been to in the past 8 months, San Jose was the only airport I couldn’t connect to Wi-Fi, so Uber was out of the picture. With very limited options, I hopped into a taxi that accepted credit cards and sat in traffic for over an hour and paid an absurd amount for the ride to my downtown hostel.
There were only 4 other people at the hostel when I arrived, each sitting on their own either reading the Lonely Planet or playing on their phones. Now, I’m not one to make small talk, especially nowadays when everyone is preoccupied with their fancy tech gadgets. Small talk has never been my forte. Maybe because I can be a bit awkward, because I’m not the best at coming up with conversation topics, because I don’t like to share details about myself, or maybe living in New York City has turned me into an emotionless and distant person. Either way, I do not enjoy or am I good at one-on-one conversations. But there I was, sitting alone on the couch, pretending to be busy on my phone while another girl was sitting on the other couch pretending to read the Lonely Planet. Clearly we were both bored and probably wanted someone to hang out and grab dinner with. So I swallowed my awkwardness and walked up to her and asked if this was her first time in Costa Rica since she’s hugging the Lonely Planet. And that was all it took for me to realize how easy it is to meet people, to initiate a conversation, and to start a new friendship. Was I uncomfortable initiating a conversation? Of course I was! What if she was actually zoned in to her Lonely Planet and wanted nothing to do with me? Or worse, what if our personalities clashed and I wanted nothing to do with her. But traveling, especially solo, is equally about having fun as it is about challenging yourself to take risks and step outside of your comfort zone.
During my 24 days in Costa Rica by myself, I was only by myself for 2 days, and that was because I chose not to spend any time with new friends because I needed the time alone to think and reflect on everything that I’ve experienced in the past year. Once the initial nerves disappeared, it felt so peaceful and free to be on my own and to finally let myself be without worrying or caring what others around me are thinking. I didn’t need to cater to anyone else’s schedules or needs as I was able to do anything I wanted, whenever I wanted. Do I sound selfish? Of course I do. But how many moments in life is it acceptable and applauded to be selfish and only cater to yourself?