I am not travelling to "find" myself.
Can we please stop adding to the narrative that every single solo female traveller shares the inner monologue of Eat, Pray, Love?
You know the type, woman faces a catalyst after some deep tragedy, woman abandons all logic to travel across the world, or embark on some other adventure she is seemingly not at all prepared for. A journey on which she learns things about herself, embraces her story and comes out stronger. Woman returns whole, healed and ultimately settles back into a typical life, has a family, gets a job, resumes normalcy.
I find it degrading.
Why do we assume that women are only able to embark on an adventurous journey due to some internal brokenness leading them to make impulsive and adventurous decisions? It assumes that a woman’s time spent on a trip or adventure is only justified for the duration of her “healing”. After which we’re supposed to return, stronger, and resume our “traditional” role in society, whilst it’s fully accepted okay for men to continue performing such adventurous feats just because.
Now, I am not taking away from those who do choose to set out on a journey of self-discovery or one of healing; and solo travel might arguably be one of the best ways to get to know yourself. But whilst this may be the case for many, it is not the case for me.
I simply set out to learn a new way of life, explore new sites, meet new people, indulge in local art, cuisine, learn about the many South African heritages and cultures. I set out to live a life filled with adventure. Because I’ve “found” myself already, but I see no harm in finding myself again and again.
But then WHY? Why would you drive so far by yourself? What motivated you? Why would you want to do something like that, especially all alone?
I know you’re expecting an answer validating a trip like this. Am I healing a trauma? Chasing a dream? Changing my life? Did I go through a breakup?
My usual answer, often received with great disappointment, is basically just a big shrug.
I’m doing this because I can, because I have a career that allows me to, because I love South Africa, and because campsite views are the best.
I’m choosing a life of constant movement because it makes me happy and feels right, and it’s possible for me at this point in my life. I’m doing this to see if I like it, to see if I could and, well, because what the hell else is there to do at home anyways?
I’m hitting the road because all of those reasons are enough, because curiosity is always (and should always be) a big enough reason why.
Honestly? I’m going because of a passing fancy—just because I feel like it.
Granted, it’s important to always be safe and as prepared as possible when embarking on a journey like this, but if I know I’m capable of safely trying, don’t I at least owe myself the attempt? Why do we keep assuming that anything more than an “I felt like it” is needed? Why should there always be a bigger goal than simply wanting to make life fun?
I know my answer to this “Year On The Road” is pretty boring, but I think it’s important: we spend so much time weighing each thing we set out to do that sometimes we lose sight of the simple joy of doing just because we can.