Getting divorced at 30 was never in the script. I didn’t see it coming and what’s worse, I had to face my divorce less than two months after my father suddenly passed away. The fairy tale life I had pictured for myself was soon replaced with the ugly reality of grief and rejection. My husband had met someone else and I quite literally felt like the rug of life had been pulled away from under me. I now had to somehow figure out how I was going to start over and I had no clue where to begin.
What scared me most was this unwavering staunch reality of being alone. I felt I had nothing to show for my life. I had lost everything that gave me a sense of purpose. I had to sell my house and move back to my childhood home without my Dad there. I no longer felt fulfilled at work. I had no drive, no self-worth and no hope. In truth, I was not prepared or accepting of this life as a divorcee and I thought there was no coming back from it. But then a spontaneous solo trip to Amsterdam changed all that.
There’s no denying that taking a solo trip abroad one month after officially separating from your husband may seem extreme. Irrational maybe. Some felt I was too vulnerable. Others told me I was running away from my problems and not facing up to my realities. But the truth was I didn’t care. I had this overwhelming feeling that was urging me to get away. This feeling was so strong that I could not ignore it. That burning desire to solo travel could not be dampened by judgement, fear or self doubt. As soon as I stepped on to that plane on my own, I felt invincible.
I spent 4 days in Amsterdam and I didn’t know it at the time, but it would be the most significant point in my healing journey. I never expected to learn so much about myself over those 4 days. I proved to myself that I was capable and that I could go it alone. I learnt that all those doubts in my mind were just thoughts, they weren’t fact. Yes I made mistakes. Yes I found myself having to think on my feet on several occasions. But I survived, and what’s more, I thrived. I was free to be unequivocally me and it turns out I liked being in my own company. For the first time in my life I was able to do everything I wanted on my own terms. I didn’t have to make compromises. I walked to the beat of my own tune.
A few months later I found myself travelling solo again. I spent a week in Dubrovnik, Croatia and this trip was a game changer. This time I was more confident and better prepared. I didn’t hesitate to talk to strangers. I trusted my instincts and fell in love with my new found independence all over again. As I watched the setting sun at the top of Mount Srd overlooking the Pearl of the Adriatic, I had an awakening. As the beauty of the world unfolded before me, I knew in that moment that life had so much more in store for me. Solo travel helped me to realise that there was a whole world out there waiting for me. One with endless possibilities and new experiences that I could truly call my own. One where I could grow through grief and learn who I truly was as an independent woman.
The plan was to solo travel the world, but then the Covid-19 pandemic struck and my plans were put on hold. But that desire to find myself again didn’t go away and I knew I needed to solo travel again. And so I decided to convert my BMW Mini into a camper and set off on a solo road trip across the UK when lockdown restrictions were lifted. I spent 9 weeks seeing places in my home country, exploring national parks, hiking stunning coastline and the beautiful Scottish Highlands. The journey was amazing, but so was the journey in myself. There were highs and lows, tears and doubts. But with that came highs, self belief and empowerment. It’s amazing how much you can grow as a person when solo travelling. I now feel that my divorce set me down a path of something far greater. It led me to solo travel which I believe has brought me back to my true self. Solo travel helped me to fall back in love with life, and most importantly, with myself.
* Find out more about Emily at her inspiring blog, Rediscovering Emily.