Confronting My Fear of Being by Myself by Traveling Alone
I went on vacation by myself and my anxiety almost kept me from doing it. Here is that story:
My anxiety made the thought of traveling by myself terrifying, but I knew I needed to get away. I was dreading work every day. I was creatively blocked. I was barely existing. My days consisted of working some, doing some schoolwork ( I’m an adult online student) and sleeping. That was it. The spice of life was missing. There was no excitement for life and my depression was overwhelming.
So I booked a cabin in South Dakota and hoped I would enjoy some time alone. Now I am not saying booking a cabin somewhere remote will cure your anxiety and depression. I still live with that every day.
With each approaching day to my trip my anxiety was getting worse and worse. Everything from worrying I’d get lost to being scared of bedbugs. I was having panic attacks daily and nightmares of people breaking into my cabin. My anxiety was out of control. At this point I was wondering is this even worth it. I was worried I would spend my entire time in the cabin, scared to go outside.
As I got closer to leaving, my attitude changed: I was going to prove to myself I could do this. I was determined to go and conquer my fear and anxiety. After several panic attacks the day I was supposed to leave, I got on the road and traveled three and a half hours. I followed some signs, used my GPS, used my intuition and most importantly I trusted myself to get there.
The first night I was a little scared, but I settled in the best I could. The first full day I went into town and explored the town then took a scenic drive. I came back and slept really well that night. I had no one to rely on but myself. I found myself in the midst of the fear. I found myself in the midst of panic. I found myself in the middle of nowhere.
When the panic started, I would stop and reminded myself I am smart, and I am capable. Despite my anxiety raging, I took a moment to tell myself to breathe and keep breathing. In the moments of sheer panic, I found myself to be trustworthy. I found that I was capable and stronger then I realized. I am smart despite what my mind’s voices tell me.
This trip was monumental for me. I proved to myself I could do it despite my anxiety. I proved I could disconnect from life and be by myself and I was OK by myself. I proved I could do things alone and I could enjoy them. What it taught me was I am so much stronger than what I give myself credit for.
My anxiety was so high in certain moments I seriously thought I was going to die. But I kept pushing through. One of the biggest breakthroughs was getting over my creative block. I’ve been trying to write for months to no avail. I tried everything but I couldn’t bring myself to write anything. I was distracted, I was consumed with social media and news, and I couldn’t focus. It wasn’t until I found space all by myself, I found my ability to write again.
If you have anxiety that tells you you’re not enough and you’re not capable… Anxiety that tells you you’re not smart enough. Anxiety that causes you not to trust yourself. Anxiety that makes you nervous to be alone. The anxiety isn’t true. It is lying to you. You are so much stronger than you can imagine. Allow yourself to experience how strong you really are. Which might mean going out of your comfort zone. It might mean spending time alone in a cabin in the middle of nowhere. Or it might simply mean taking yourself out to dinner to be by yourself. Whatever makes you afraid, whatever gives you anxiety, sometimes the only way to conquer it is challenging it and do the opposite action.
I’m on my last day of the trip as I write this, and I can say I enjoyed myself. It was good to rest. It was good to relax. It was good to be alone. It was good to experience this trip. For me, the only way to challenge my anxiety was to go on this trip. I found myself during my time secluded from the rest of the world, and it’s exactly what I needed.
Header: Getty image by Bogdan Kurylo
Photo of cabin via contributor