Late last night I saw the lights of New Dehli for the first time. After 30+ hours of airports and airplanes, India was right there. Just 27 minutes until my feet touched her soil. My only definitive thought at that moment was: Shit. This is really happening.
You know those 30 before 30 lists, I started one a few years ago. I think I wrote down about 5 items and then never returned to it but there were two I held on to: Run my first marathon and go to India. I turn 30 on August 19th of this year. (No promises on that marathon).
The idea of traveling to India was planted in my crazy head seven years ago. I was invited on a trip and I passed it up. The seed remained and grew with time. I read books that took place in India, Shantaram (a larger than life journey into the underbelly of Mumbai) and Holy Cow (a travel narrative by an Australian woman who reluctantly returns to India for her boyfriend’s job and sees a different side of India). Shantaram left me enchanted and certain that I would someday be fluent in Hindi (yep, still working on that one) and Holy Cow showed me the people of India. Their quirks, their kindness, their cultural richness and their love. These were people I needed to meet.
I always knew I would come to India, but I never imagined it would be solo. India is an intense place, even more so for women travelers. As everything started to fall together and I knew this trip was actually happening, I also realized that it had to be just me. One of the biggest beliefs I have formulated through the experiences of my 20s is that we as women need to experience traveling alone, preferably more than once. My growth in this decade has been incredible and a large part of that is due to my decision to travel and to travel alone at times. And by alone, I don’t mean lonesome, depressed wallflower, I mean where you are reliant upon yourself and the journey ahead of you only. Quite often that involves a lot of new friends and fellow travelers along the way. Through these experiences I have learned how self-reliant I can be, the courage I am capable of, the importance of an open heart and an open mind. I have learned that your life is only as big or small as the walls you yourself put up, about the kindness of strangers, and how to trust in the world at times.
You do not need to book a flight to India and get on the next plane. You don’t even need to leave the country. Get in the car and get lost in your own state. Visit a city in your country that’s been at the top of your list. Stay overnight in your own city in a part of town you’ve always wanted to explore (if it’s bigger than Big Sky, that is), just do it alone. You might be afraid, or embarrassed, or too busy or think I’m a little bit crazy, but you need to give yourself this gift. Love it or hate it, you will learn a few things about yourself and they will have a lasting effect.
Yes, it’s really happening. I’m in India for the next five weeks. I’m scared and nervous. I’m thrilled and excited. This is my biggest adventure yet.
P.S. While I’m in India things are going to be a little quiet around here and on Facebook. I will still be checking email but response times are going to be a bit slower. Thank you for being patient with me!