Do I feel like I found myself?
Is a question I want to be able to answer after visiting Hawaii. I can hear the sound of the surf outside my hotel balcony, even at 10 PM here, and there is both a peacefulness and a vengeance to the sensation.
I came here after a lot of heartache, frustration, and depression, with the hopes that sand, sun, intoxication and adventures could wipe it all away. I know I have a singular role in making the most of my experience. I did come alone, after all.
So with the suggestions of friends who had visited, locals I've encountered, and input from the people I trust most back home, I figured out the places that were important to experience-- that is, important to ME.
I came here to be alone with myself. Why do we as humans, always have to be with another person? It's as if, as individuals, we can't possibly function without a buddy.
I get the safety reasoning: it's a dangerous world. I could just as easily be kidnapped and sold into prostitution as I could have a great time and go home. But I think that's a cop out. People aren't that bad. Sure, there are extremely dangerous people in the world, and one does need to be careful. But if we're not taking risks, are we really living?
I get the modern reasoning: who's going to take pictures of me to document this experience on social media? After all, "pics or it didn't happen." That's a cop out too. Talk to people. Ask them to take pictures for you. If you have to invent a lame excuse like, "I promised I'd send my mom pictures because she's worried about me traveling and wants to make sure I'm safe," then do it.
If I can sit at a table of 6, completely alone, and be simultaneously not okay and okay? So can you. Eating dinner alone with a dying phone, at more restaurants than one, is an experience I recommend to all. Be careful, obviously, but it's not all poisoned drinks and lecherous looks from skeazy men.
Honestly, it's overcompensating waitstaff, catering to your every need so that you have a good time. And if they pity me? Good. It just means I know something they don't know: I'm learning the most important thing I can-- me. It's so much more than loneliness and feeling like people think you're pathetic.
It's wishing you had a pen and paper, or a napkin or something, to doodle and write, or pass the time. It's people-watching, watching the stories around you play out. I saw (and this is 100% my own interpretation and by no means is supported by any truthful facts), a rich white widow who eats alone and lusts after the Hispanic restaurant manger, families bickering while they wait for their tables; friends gathering to celebrate something in a foreign language I can't understand, and couples looking to deepen their relationship over food and drink.
I was none of those things, and that's OK. And I made sure I didn't get too drunk, in the presence of those I didn't know, and that I made it back to my hotel room with a phone on 1%.
I lived in a different time zone for a week. I saw the sights, hiked, visited traditional sightseeing opportunities, and those off the beaten path...all in hopes of meeting myself.
When you lose someone close to you, your entire world is erased from underneath your feet. You free-fall, for a while, while you figure things out. In the face of such loss, I knew I needed a break. Living life as expected, the path I was walking before, wasn't good enough anymore. I needed to determine what I want out of life.
The only soul I live with.
We choose to surround ourselves with people, places, and things we love to be around. We seek out those in proximity, those blood related, and those we feel a sameness with, or who are complete opposites to the point we can't not be attracted to them. We spend our life in this circle, pleasing these people and spending our days in their company.
When was the last time you spent a day with you?
Have you ever cut yourself off from those people, even for 24 hours? Have you made a concentrated effort to separate yourself from your existing world...to examine and evaluate what you want out of your own life? It's easier said than done, I know. I took a huge financial hit on this trip; most of my savings has been decimated and I'm still not walking into a stable career when I return...but it was worth it.
It was worth it because I got to sit by myself, drunk at 10 o'clock at night, and examine what I wanted out of life. Do I want to sit on the sidelines and watch is all unfold? Or do I want to create my own reality? Because I'm the only person going into the ground at the end of this.
Why not be selfish? Why not do things and seek out things that challenge you, comfort you, excite you? Why not pursue your wildest passions? Knowing that you will have supporters and you will have critics.
At the end of the day, and the end of your life...you will be held accountable to whatever deity you believe in (even if that deity is yourself). What will you tell him/her/it? What will you show it?
At the end of these 11 days, I'll return to my normal life. My goal is to make these 11 days mean something. It's to look back on it and realize that I didn't do this for nothing. That I made sure I sat with myself, and felt EVERYTHING. Misery. Happiness. Contentment. Anger. Fear. Panic. Insanity. Joy. Self-compassion. And more. That even in communicating with other human beings, I understood there was a greater power in self-sufficiency.
It's to be able to answer the question: "Did I find myself?"
I hope I can answer, "Yes. Yes, I did."