By Protima Tiwary

In a surprising chain of events I landed up booking a week long vacation all by myself. I woke up one morning, decided I wanted to travel, felt a little impatient, and booked my tickets before I changed my mind. I guess somewhere in my subconscious mind it had to do with the fact that not many would be excited about impromptu travel plans, plus coordinating with time and plans was taking a toll on my mental peace. So here I was, making my way to another city all by myself. All that I knew was that I had a hostel to stay at, and I was sure I’d make friends along the way.
The rest of the itinerary remained unplanned; there was something exciting about the unknown, especially for someone who is a creature of habit & cannot live without the security of a safe plan.

Clichéd as it may sound, a solo trip is empowering. Here is a list of things that I ended up learning (for life)

Travel is the best teacher.

There is so much to learn out there! Change is disturbing, which explains why we do not want to get out of our comfort zones and explore what the world has in store for us. Getting out of your boundaries has so much to teach you, both good and bad. There’s so much to learn with every experience, with every person you meet, with every feeling you go through! It’s like learning on the job, and that is always the best way to
learn. No text book will ever prepare you for what really happens in the real world.

Small steps are important too.

Nothing you do for your country is ever a small, inconsiderable step. Even small things make a difference.
You’re mistaken if you think you cleaning up trash or helping domestic help with education or providing shelter to the needy or protesting for something is not affecting your country. Your voice is heard, always. Slowly and surely people shall take notice if you stick with what you believe in.
Most of us do not take rules seriously because “why must we, everyone else is flouting rules left, right and center!” It’s sad how no one wants to follow rules and maintain hygiene because they think it doesn’t affect the nation.
I met someone who was funding the education for refugees back in Europe, and what he said made me really happy “I might not be able to make a huge difference, but I know I mean the world to that one family I’m supporting. And that’s enough for me.”

Age is just a number.

We live in a society that expects you to get married at a certain age, have babies by a certain age, dress according to age. I met so many older women who were visiting the yoga retreats in India. I met so many young people doing so well in their lives that it made me think “wait, you’re 23 and you’re all that?!” And then realized how we were conditioned to simply attach age to everything that we do. It’s a pity that we let “age” define us. We need to move out of this mindset, we need to concentrate on what we really want to do, instead of thinking “I can’t wear this, it’s not my age to wear this.”

Happiness isn’t normal.

Happiness is an extremely difficult state to achieve. It’s easier to complain and whine, and we love taking the easy way out.

Doing what we want to do to be happy makes us feel guilty. Plus “what will people say” doesn’t help either. It takes a lot to be your unapologetic self. People are scared to accept happiness. Happiness is sadly, oh so abnormal.

Making friends is empowering.

Meeting new people is exciting, empowering and an altogether amazing experience. Knowing that you can befriend absolute strangers is empowering. You are suddenly exposed to a world so different compared to your own. There is so much to learn, something no history textbook will ever teach you.
But then comes the hard part- the goodbyes. Goodbyes are so painful. Sometimes connecting with people takes less than a few hours, and there has to come a point where you say goodbye. It’s one of the most heartbreaking parts of travel.

I also realized how the words adjust and compromise are strong words mostly used in the negative sense. If done with and for the right people, it’s a piece of cake.

A solo trip opens up your eyes to the most obvious things that one takes for granted. I truly believe that every individual must have a solo trip experience once in their lives to truly understand the world, but most importantly, a solo trip is what will make them understand themselves.

An Army kid in pursuit of culinary nirvana, Protima Tiwary is a freelance content writer by day and Dumbbells and Drama, a fitness blogger by night. High on love, life and sugar, she is mildly obsessed about cupcakes and to-do lists, and loves her long runs like a fat kid loves cake.

While she fumbles towards fame as a writer, she believes living life with a little bit of flair and exaggeration makes things interesting. Blog – http://dumbbellsanddrama.com/