How My Year Alone Freed Me

Okay, so it wasn’t a full year, but after nine months of solo travel, I birthed a new me.

I’m a confident single. In the past, there was a part of me that felt the answer to “So, are you seeing anyone?” should imply that although I’m single, I’m on the hunt for a man. And truth be told, I really was on the hunt. A lot. It was a desperate searching for completion that I no longer experience. Now, I do not feel ashamed to simply answer “No”. (Incidentally, I have perhaps gone too far left and still reply in the negative even though I am dating someone.)

I’m on the path to becoming an interesting old person. My unequivocal goal in life is to be so nourished with scandalous, wacky, fun tales that as an old woman, I could sit on a rocking chair, with my short term memory failing, and be entertained by a sordid past.

Posed pictures bore me. If not a family reunion or an I-am-really-feeling-myself-in-this-dress photo, it is uninteresting and overdone to simply face the camera and smile. Action shots, which capture the essence of unique moments are always cooler; posing is acceptable only if there is a wicked backdrop.

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My résumé is polished, but not in the cookie cutter way. I previously created “The Unofficial Personality Assessment,” in which I posted my results to online personality tests. It is with this same spirit that I have produced my current résumés. Instead of a standard format, I prefer a more creative layout that will establish a truer sense of who I am. Employers generally admire my boldness or are shocked by my insubordination. Either way, at this stage of my life and career, I don’t want to work for those who abhor my individuality.

I’m not embarrassed by sex. At first, I fully believed premarital sex was sinful. Then, I falsified relationships to allow myself to be intimate without guilt. And now, I don’t have hangups and take every new opportunity as it comes. I’m neither embarrassed by my previous experiences, nor worried about future trysts. I’m in control of my body and of my desires.

I don’t limit my eating. At thirty, my metabolism isn’t quite what it used to be, but once done in moderation, it’s about enjoying the moment. Walking around the city and feeling for a Mr. Softie ice-cream? Craving a Home Alone cheese pizza all to myself? #TreatYoself (or #TreatMySelf).

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My mantra is: Work Hard, Play Hard. When I began living off my savings, I realized that I didn’t spend on fun when I was employed (mostly because I was working in the States, where vacation is considered unproductive). My Dad burnt out from his endless schedule of work, work, work, work, work, work (read it like RiRi), and I don’t want that to ever be me. Breaks to enjoy life are just as important as a job about which I’m so passionate I’m willing to go without sleep to get tasks done.

I love physical reinvention. Traveling alone allows me to exist without people who really know me, and when no one knows me, I’m always fresh. But for my static life, a drastic hairstyle change is the physical manifestation of a refusal to be consistently the same. It’s also fun to be bold and to realize that even though people might initially be aghast, eventually everyone gets accustomed.

I dress to check out my reflection in the mirror. Occasionally, I feel like wearing a very sexy bodycon LBD, but it’s never for third party approval. Where in the past I might have dressed to pull a guy, I now realize it’s all about inner confidence, not outer appearance, for sometimes one attracts a man while decked out in the most surprising of outfits.

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I create and live by My Rules. Not supposed to quit your career job three years in and travel? Did it. Not supposed to kiss on the first date? Did it. (Twice.) Not supposed to live off savings and wait for the opportunity about which you’re passionate to come to fruition? Doing it. People love to give me advice because my life is not aligned with the norm, but thank goodness I have a favorite Uncle who taught me that unless someone is paying your bills, he has no right to your life.

I have baggage. Sure, there are things about my past which I unfortunately do still hold on to, but this is not a declaration of emotional baggage. It’s a practical celebration of IT brand, which is marketed as “the world’s lightest luggage”. I own the 22″ carry-on, and chose the Peacoat color because it’s classy and still stands apart form the sea of other black cases. With a quality bag that neatly fits my essentials, packing is easy and I’m encouraged to travel more frequently.

It’s not ever passed my bedtime. I abso-one-hundred-percent-lutely love my sleep, but nights out will not abruptly end because I must get home in time to be rested enough to do something routine. I will stay out as long as I’m having a good time.

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My appearance does not prevent me from having fun. I take pride in my appearance and have fun dressing up, but if I run out of contacts, I will go out with glasses. If I have no clean underwear, I will turn one inside out, use a pad, try swimsuit bottoms or go commando. If I can’t shower because bus schedules and canyoning times don’t align, I will neither bathe nor complain. If I’m dressed for a sporting event, but friends decide to hit the bars immediately after, I will not go home to change. Let’s do this!

I take ownership of my body. I’ve always been relatively comfortable in my own skin, but there were definite moments where I wanted an ass like H, cheekbones like E and feet like R. The change is that I now think I want to try these exercises so that my calves look a little more defined. I’m willing to put in the work to make changes which suit my body; there’s no comparison to other women.

I am my biggest competition. I grew up with immigrant parents, who were never present, never taught me anything and who saw the world as doctor, lawyer and wife. As such, I was constantly compared to others who were doing great things in a traditional way. However, my success would take a different path and would require that I am not threatened or intimidated by others. There are lessons to learn and value from conventionalists, but I pick and choose what suits my goals, rather than trying to mimic their achievements.

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I carry condoms. Once I’m in the mood, I’m in the mood. It’s very hard for me to let the lack of protection stop sex from happening. This was okay when I was first in my very serious, six-year, monogamous relationship, but safety is imperative when dating. It’s my health at risk so I like to maintain control and not defer this responsibility to the man.

I can laugh at myself. I am extremely clumsy and get myself into the most ridiculous situations, but I’ve grown to love this part of who I am.

I mingle selectively. My parents overdid the social networking. When growing up, my brother and I found it to be false and skewed, especially as they would try hardest with a certain class of people. Because I couldn’t mimic their mingling ability on command, I became completely introspective and shy. Then, I went to college, where I was finally surrounded by family who really loved me–they didn’t love me just for my potential future achievements. This was fulfilling and allowed me to truly lean into my authentic personality. And finally, last year, as I traveled alone, I realized I do have fun with people. I will never be able to socialize in a trying-too-hard, lame way, but it is magical when it happens organically.

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I embrace my past. When I stopped traveling, I returned to a Caribbean island, where for some reason, people loved to talk about me in a very judgmental manner. I’m really not that interesting, yet still, I remained a topic of conversation. One of the main reasons for the blog is that I didn’t want anyone else to control my narrative. Messy, tragic, deplorable, though it may be, it’s my story to tell. No small mind could possibly tell a tale as wonderfully weird as my reality. I guess my whole thing is that no matter how bad anyone thinks I am, the truth is, I’m actually way worse.

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