The writings in this post are the opinion of the writer. Girls Who Travel encourages you to seek professional health if you’re having any sort of mental health issues.
How solo travel changed my outlook on life
Mental Health Struggles
When I was told I was ready to stop therapy at age 17, I was ecstatic! Depression had not beaten me. Anorexia had not taken my lust for life away. Fast forward 5 years. I’m 22 years old, it’s been almost a year since I ended my last relationship. And I watched him (thanks to social media) become engaged to someone else. I had so many negative thoughts floating around my head. I went back to old habits. Back to struggling with what most people didn’t even think about in day to day life. But this time, I did not head for therapy. Instead I headed for Scotland. Edinburgh to be exact. I needed to change my outlook on life.
I felt sick waiting for my train. I had never been this far by myself before – I had never even traveled. I’d skipped breakfast and missed lunch. A normal day for me, really.
My three hour train ride turned into four. It’s Brit
ain, there are usually delays. I arrived at Waverley Station. It was crowded and noisy. I rushed as quickly as I could to the comfort of my hotel, a Travelodge, a simple staple in the history of my families holidays.
It’s roughly 3pm when I head out to explore. I dawdle around at the slowest pace I can muster. I’m usually the first person to rush anywhere, but I wanted to take my time here. It was an attempt at changing my outlook on life.
I found my way half way up the Royal Mile. There were performers who captivated me every step of the way, cute little old world shops that I just had to stop in, and the Heart of Midlothian just had to be seen, although maybe not if you have issues with saliva.
As my first day of solo travel in Edinburgh drew to a close, I stood watching the day go by at the top of Calton Hill. The feeling of having conquered the world washed over me. I realized it was the time when most people sat down to their meals, my stomach growled at me to join in the dinner time rush.
Dinner in Edinburgh
I had decided where to go long before my departure, Wagama
ma’s. I’ve always had a love of Asian cuisine and the seating arrangements didn’t look too terrifying for a lone diner.
I headed for the restaurant with a pounding heart and sweaty palms. I didn’t understand why this seemed so scary. Greeted by the friendliest waiter I could have wished for, I made my way to my table. Next to the open kitchen, a high table for two, perfect size for a lone diner!
I chose Ramen, a dish I had chose carefully based on the nutrient content stated on the menu, it was divine.
Taking Back Control
I smiled to myself as I enjoyed as much as I could manage of the delicious bowl of food in front of me. See, I had been living a “normal” life for the past five years. I had enjoyed every new taste I had tried, and I hadn’t counted a calorie for most of that time.
I realized in that moment that I had been missing something in my life, control. What started it all in the first place. I had not had any control of my happiness, I had broken up with someone I thought I loved, I was in a job that I hated, and I had no social life to speak of.
5 months after that first solo trip, I’m still facing similar challenges. I haven’t traveled anywhere else since, but solo travel changed my outlook on life. Had I not chosen to go on the trip to the Scottish capital, I would probably still feel empty and lost, and things could have gotten much worse. Had I not gone, I would have begun to lose the lust for life that I’d worked for years to reclaim. Solo travel changed my outlook, and changed me for the better.