Sometimes I think I was unbelievably naive to take on a trip like this without ever having done anything like it before, all alone, for three months. Sometimes, three months (or two months, or now, just under one and a half months) feels like an eternity. Sometimes I wonder what I'm doing and sometimes I miss home and sometimes I just feel overwhelmed.
But those sometimes, they're getting further apart. They're lasting less time. They're becoming easier to talk myself – or more accurately, write myself – out of. They're easier to anticipate: if I'm tired, or if its a travel day, I've learned to prepare myself for the feelings. The recognition that I'll probably get overwhelmed on a given day isn't enough to stop myself from getting overwhelmed, but when my crazy brain starts to set in, it's easier to remind myself that its ONLY the fatigue talking, that the feelings I'm having aren't because I've made a huge mistake. And some of those sometimes I still ask my mom for advice, or send out some snapchats, or write to the people I care about. All of it helps.
Travelling alone has been completely different than I imagined. It's been better and it's been worse. Mostly better. Sometimes worse. It's been better because I never believed I would meet so many great people so easily, and because I've learned I really love exploring on my own and stopping to see buildings and alleyways and street performances on a whim. Whenever it's been worse, it's because I feel far away from the people who know me best, people that I don't have to explain myself to, or it's been because I'm exhausted and I wish someone else could figure out hostel arrangements or the train schedules, just this once. But mostly, travelling on my own has just been different. It's been surreal sometimes to find myself on the beach/climbing up a hill/exploring a market/taking the bus with a handful of strangers. It's been strange to figure it all out on my own and realize (astonished, really) that I am the only one responsible for taking myself on this trip with all of its details and stops and day trips. It all seemed so much more complicated before I left than it has been in reality, but that doesn't make me any less proud of myself.
And speaking of the logistics, I've been pleasantly surprised with how much I have enjoyed creating this plan as I go. I've been really happy to find that my Eurail pass makes taking the train so easy. I've learned that I love navigating cities. I've been grateful time and time again that I'm travelling with a backpack, not a rolling suitcase, and that I can move easily and hands free wherever I need to go. My bag is about 22 pounds, which feels really heavy when its on for too long, but which is generally very manageable for me. I haven't yet regretted packing anything, and I have now packed that bag what feels like a hundred times. The packing cubes are a total lifesaver, as have been all the individual Ziplock bags breaking everything up.
I think if I was to do this trip over, knowing what I do now, I'd probably do it for two months: most of one with a friend, and then the rest on my own. That said, and I know it doesn't really make sense, but, I also wouldn't ever go back and change anything if I had the choice. Three months was a long time for my first solo trip, but even so, most of the time, I'm finding it so positive: I feel more relaxed about not having every last detail planned out, I'm taking on board more recommendations, travelling alone has made me *so* much more open to talking to people than I ever was before, and my coping skills, while still nowhere near perfect, have definitely improved. I have no doubt that this has been an incredible experience, both in terms of what I've gotten to see and do, and because of what it's taught me.
I've learned how much I love to swim far out in the ocean to think and meditate, because I always come back to shore feeling way more grounded. I've learned that I love to seek out vegetarian restaurants wherever I go and have long, long lunches alone with my book. I've learned that I'll happily watch any street dance performance, even more than once. I've learned there's nothing better than a message (or text or photo) from someone I love. I've learned small hostels are better. I've learned to sleep on the train. I've learned I can handle it.
Just past the halfway mark, I'm feeling good. I'm feeling like the end is simultaneously still far away and yet very rapidly approaching. I feel so ambivalent about finishing my trip: I want to see my loved ones, but I don't want this to end, and I don't have the answers I want about what to do next. Trying to tell myself that's normal, that's okay, that it'll all work out in the end. I'm feeling so appreciative of my friends and my wonderful family who have all been so encouraging and positive. I love you all!