Hi my loves. I just got back from a 3 day trip to Ubud which was jam packed with all the touristy stuff and having to deal with more feelingsss come up. The Balanced Blonde posted a quote the other day about Bali – about how Mama Bali bubbles things to the surface that you’ve neglected for a long time and I am feeeling this for suuuuure.
I wrote previously how I always feel this “pressure” when I solo travel to meet people. I feel like anyone who ever solo travels always talks about how they meet so many people and they were barely alone, but I truly solo travel to be…solo.
I can feel like I’m “not doing it right” for not meeting people, but the truth is I don’t want to. I am 100% okay with being alone.
After the first initial days in Canggu, I started to become much more comfortable being alone and was in fact LOVING IT and was having all the fun just being with ME and doing whatever I want. Seriously, having the most fun. Like laughing to nobody but myself, fun and having crazy dance parties and writing naked.
Then, I went to Ubud and stayed in a hostel so I had to say bye to my luxe villa life and re-acclimate to other people’s energies.
The first night in Ubud, I felt the “loneliness bug”. There is something about being in an unfamiliar place where everything is new and unknown and strange and I ALWAYS feel the homesick, achey feeling.
I started to realize that I’ve felt this way the first night in a new city, no matter if I’m alone or not. It doesn’t usually last long and always passes. Does anyone else experience this? I also feel this “lonely” feeling when I’m out and about and the sun sets…like as soon as it gets dark and I’m at a restaurant or something either alone or with someone else, I start to feel soo lonely. Anyone else??
Anyways, I booked a day long group trip to Nusa Penida, which is this island off the coast of Bali.
Basically, a tour guide picked us up in Ubud, drove us an hour to the boat, we boated for an hour, and then met with another tour guide to drive around the island all day and take pictures at various sea spots (like the famous Kelingking beach you see alll over IG).
I honestly didn’t love the tour mostly because it felt like it was an Instagram tour and not just a tour to EXPERIENCE the island. Like it was just a lot of driving around just to get out and take pictures and then leave…
On my tour were me, three american girls who are currently studying abroad in Thailand, and a couple from Korea who didn’t speak English.
Now, maybe the normal thing to do was to make friends with these three american girls. They seemed nice enough. They reminded me a lot of some girls I went to high school with, but honestly I didn’t feel much like talking to anyone and they weren’t paying much attention to me.
I got the sense they had all known each other since babies (they were all from Minnesota, went to the same university in the USA and all decided to study abroad together).
Suddenly, instead of being alone and being able to enjoy my own company, I was faced with either forcing myself to make conversation with these strangers, or just sit quietly and listen in on their conversations. And sitting quietly made me feel like a bit of a loser, but honestly what else was I to do.
Let me just say, it felt really awkward either way. They didn’t make an effort to talk to me or include me in their conversations, and I didn’t really feel like butting in just to feel more “included” on this random group tour.
They kept going on about how much they were craving beers and a cigarette, and how they couldn’t wait to “go out” that evening and that they hadn’t “gone out” in sooo long (a week)
Being around these girls triggered some thoughts about how I have a tendency to want to be a part of the “cool group” and to be friends with them but actually don’t wanna be friends with them because we have nothing in common (see: all they can talk about are beers and cigarettes).
This feeling of longing to be in the “popular” group but somehow always feeling like an outsider has been a trend throughout my life, and I can trace it back to high school when I moved across the country from Pennsylvania to California.
When I went to middle school in PA, I was definitely part of the “cool, popular” group. Back then, I didn’t really think about who was popular, because I was just in the group. They were just my friends, and that was that.
But then, I moved to California to start high school with around 2,000 people. I remember really feeling like the odd one out, because everyone had come from various middle schools and had known each other since birth so they already had friend groups and since I didn’t know anyone, I didn’t know where my friend group was.
I remember trying really hard to make friends. I would sit with random people at lunch tables and try to talk to them and they would kind of give me weird looks and then walk away.
I eventually made friends in my classes and such, but I remember not really feeling like I belonged to any particular group throughout high school. I did choir and drama and there was definitely a “choir group” and “drama group” but I didn’t do choir long enough to join that group and the drama kids were honestly too out there for me and I didn’t really connect with them to “join the group”.
Honestly, I longed to be popular. There was definitely a clear group of “popular kids” which mostly consisted of the football playing boys and the beautiful girls and because I felt like I was part of “that group” back in Pennsylvania, I felt isolated and confused as to why these girls weren’t accepting me in California.
Back in freshman/sophomore year of high school, it felt like a big deal who you would sit at lunch with. There were times at the beginning of my freshman year when I really felt like a loser because I didn’t know who to sit at lunch with. Eventually I found my solid, lunch group with the waterpolo girls.
There were a group that did both waterpolo and swim team and I somehow joined their group, even though I didn’t do any of those sports. They were nice enough to me, and I eventually found my soul sister in that group, but I still didn’t feel like I belonged because I couldn’t relate to most of their conversations about their practices and games and meets (and they were all always together, whereas I would only hang out with them at lunch).
Then, as high school went on, I was in all of the AP and Honors classes and there was a definite “group” of them too. Mostly girls who had all went to the same elementary & middle schools and were basically like sisters. These girls were nice enough too, but again I didn’t feel like I belonged, because I hadn’t grown up with them. I remember seeing how they would have giant sleepovers and feeling jealous I didn’t have that.
I did have some best friends (shout out to the Clear Creek homies and Noah & Deanna) but never really felt like I found my group throughout high school.
Then, I went to college and I wanted to meet people so I thought maybe I should join a sorority. (plus, this inner longing in me of “wanting to be popular” felt like being in a sorority would help me feel that way)
So, the first week of freshman year, I signed up for rush week. It was an intense like 4 or 5 day thing to “meet” all the sororities and you were required to be there every single day.
The day before rush week started, I found out I had a callback for a mainstage show (which was a big deal as a freshmen) at the arts school and I couldn’t miss it, so I skipped my rush week. I remember the rush mom calling me and asking me where I was, and I told her, oh I decided against it.
I could always “rush” next quarter, if I still wanted to.
So, while people were rushing sororities and finding their “sisters for life” I was trying to get cast in shows and was still looking for my “group”.
I started to go to frat parties and was having the tiiiime of my life, but something I noticed (and hated) about my school is that any time you were at a frat party (and honestly the only kind of parties were frat parties) is that every time you would meet someone they would ask, “what sorority are you in?” and me and my friends were like none…and then they would kinda smile and nod and then stop being interested in us, because it was very much the culture of climbing up social ladders and hanging out with “cool” sororities or fraternities and if you were unaffiliated then you just weren’t worth their time.
It honestly bothered me a lot, like why can’t we all just be people at this party, why does it matter who is affiliated with what.
But, the greek life culture was very much like that and so we had to deal with it until we just stopped going to frat parties all together.
I occasionally thought, maybe it would be nice to join a sorority and have a built in community and friends to always do stuff with, but I hated the idea of
a. paying for friends and
b. having someone tell me what to do (like what I can and can’t wear on a certain day and what kind of pictures I’m allowed to post on social media)
so I was like noooo, thank you, but still secretly longed to be in a sorority just to have that feeling of “belonging” and “popularity”. I remember feeling that way a lot my freshman and sophomore years but couldn’t get myself to actually join one.
I eventually found my “group” at the arts school (shoutout to UCI drama fam) and we felt like a big, tight-knit, incestuous family and I loved them and felt like I belonged and had a great time in college, really feeling like I had my community.
Being with these girls all day brought up all of these thoughts and feelings from being a teenager trying to find her group and fitting in and it was a beautiful lesson in learning to heal my inner wounded teenager.
There was this moment where we stopped to have lunch and the Korean couple went off by themselves, and the three of them went off and one of them pitifully looked back to me and said “you can eat with us if you want” and I felt this like grip of panic as I didn’t want to have to try to make conversation with them, but also couldn’t really just go eat alone when we came as a group. We ended up all eating together and it was a lot of them talking about their friends back home and me sitting there, staring wistfully off into the distance trying to STAY IN MY OWN EXPERIENCE.
There was another moment where we had free time to chill at the beach and they went off to get their beers, the Korean couple went off somewhere, and I ran straight to the water. From the water, I could seem them coming near where I had placed my stuff and it looked like they were about to set their towels nearby. Like not close enough where we would be sitting together, but close enough to where we would both know the other is there and I again felt this grip of panic of having to maybe force myself into their group because it would be just too awkward of me sitting their alone while they were nearby (they kept walking, thankfully).
The truth is, I truly ENJOY my own company. Like there are very few people that I would rather hang out with than myself. I’m awesome and I know how to have a good time.
I’m also a a 50/50 split of extrovert/introvert.
When I’m around other people, I am known as the crazy, loud, wild one. There are few things I wouldn’t do. I will go talk to strangers, have no problem making friends, get naked in public, sing loudly, and just generally give zero fucks about what people think about me.
But, when I’m by myself (and especially when I’m solo traveling) I keep to myself. I don’t like talking to other people. I don’t like meeting strangers. I think part of this is a little self-protective as I sometimes feel vulnerable in certain situations when traveling alone and don’t feel like striking up conversation with rando’s is really worth my time and energy.
So, basically what I’m saying is that I didn’t make friends with the three american girls who could only talk about finding their next beer and cigarettes. I’m sure they are lovely people and in another life, maybe we could be friends, but when the tour ended, I breathed a sigh of relief to finally be alone again.
Where I didn’t have to worry about “looking” like a loner, and could just be free.
I think I would have had a very different experience if there was another solo traveler in the group. I would have no problem making friends with the other “loner”, but in a group setting, the dynamic was just off and it was just awkward.
ANYWAYS, thanks for reading along, I felt like I needed to process these feelings in a post and really explore where the feeling of “wanting to belong” and thinking about my past.
In short, YOU ARE NOT ALONE BUT IT’S ALSO OKAY TO BE ALONE ❤
hehe, much love ❤