Traveling is always such an emotional experience for me, particularly when I go alone. It’s always an opportunity to uncover something new about myself or to confront something I’ve been avoiding.

Growing up I hated being by myself and was constantly seeking out others to entertain me. I was terrified of what would happen if I had no choice but to face the silence. What was lurking underneath felt so sad and so misunderstood. It felt safer to hide all that and surround myself by people who may not have always been good for me, but certainly did a great job of filling the silence.

The first time I traveled alone was in Italy and for the first time, I relished my solitude. I strolled through the streets of Florence hunting for sandwiches and coffee as my music played nonstop. I felt alive and thrilled at the idea of only having to take care of myself. The burden of feeling responsible for everyone else was all too familiar to me but on those cobblestone streets I was free. I know treasure being alone – as it turns out I not only prefer it but also need it to function as my best, happiest self.

I look back now and can’t even remember what I had been so afraid of. That trip brings feelings of such deep gratitude. It gave me the chance to see that being alone with myself could be an enjoyable experience (who knew). I discovered that I could make myself happy and that life was something magical. There was a world out there far bigger than I had imagined and my lust for it outweighed my fear that I wasn’t brave enough to go out there and see it. In something as seemingly simple as taking a trip, I confronted and broke through some major limiting beliefs and fears!

It’s no surprise then that on every solo trip since, I have made it a point to use those experiences as opportunities to do some serious uncovering and integrating. Sometimes the discoveries are little, like my realizing that NYC is very energetically draining on me. Or that I need to move slowly in the morning and don’t fully feel awake until around 10:30-11:00. Other times they are very large like finding out I’m still triggered by something I thought I had worked through years ago.

For me it takes getting out of my environment to become aware of these more subtle nuances of my existence. I’m convinced it’s harder to notice them in the day-to-day flow of my normal life. Taking myself out of the “normal” externally brings to surface everything out of the “normal” internally. Travel literally opens up your mind to another reality than the one you live. It can help you realize the things you want as well as the things you want to let go of in your own life.

Julia Piantini