Everyone should travel alone at least once.
I wouldn’t say that I was completely sheltered growing up, but my family definitely raised me to believe that my home was the safest place. Meanwhile, I’d see horrifying headlines above gruesome and disturbing images in newspapers.
Naturally, I began forming a certain view of the world and human nature as corrupt and evil.
Travelling alone defied it all.
I spent a semester of my third year abroad in the Netherlands. I planned to backpack with friends from exchange, but I soon realized that everyone’s plans differed too greatly and would prevent me from going where I wanted. With some hesitation, I ended up jumping between friends and found myself travelling alone at times.
It’s funny how the moment you step away from the safety of your home into a world that pushes your boundaries and comfort zone, you feel the safest.
I was never mugged, attacked or harassed. I may have gotten lost a few times, but I always found my way, usually with the kindness of strangers.
People said, “You were just lucky that nothing bad happened to you.” I think it’s sad that our predispositions about the world and its people have led us to believe the only way to come back unscathed is through “luck.”
These predispositions, and the consequent anxiety to leave your own front door alone, are more dangerous than anything outside.
While acting with caution is always important, living in fear is debilitating.
I saw the goodness in people and learned that more strangers are good and kind than the alternative.
Everywhere I went there were more people, in the same place, at the same moment in time, doing the same thing as me. It was those moments where I thought I was completely alone that I felt the furthest from it.
The number of people who reached out to me along the way surprised and moved me. The stories behind the people left me inspired. They were the best part, because each story was so unique.
Travelling alone gave me some semblance of hope and faith in humanity, and proved to me that despite the occasional ugliness of human nature, there’s always more beauty if you’re open to looking for it.
Jordana is one of The Journal’s Assistant News Editors. She’s a fourth-year English Major.
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