Riding the Wave of Loneliness – The Silence of Living Abroad Solo

Eight weeks. Eight full weeks of adventuring to new corners of the world and to familiar ones, of laughing with friends who I couldn’t imagine life without, of being reunited with those who will never let me fall, of getting lost in late nights that I never wanted to end, of celebrating life’s little moments. Each day was new. Each day was exciting. Each day turned into a night that was waiting in anticipation for what was to come next.

Silence.

Utter and complete silence overtook me as I arrived in my apartment, alone for the first time in eight weeks. I set down my bags. I looked around slowly, somehow expecting things to be different, but finding an odd sense of familiarity as I saw my belongings in the same place as I left them. Everything was the same, yet I couldn’t shake the overwhelming feeling of emptiness.

I busied myself. I unpacked my bags, did laundry, and went to the grocery store to restock my bare shelves. I answered long overdue emails and messages, I cleaned my room, and I settled in expecting to simply mold back into the life I lived here for the last five months. “Now what?”, I whispered.

I felt so full of everything, yet so empty at the same time. I looked out the window of my balcony and couldn’t fight the feeling of loneliness that had been brewing inside me since I returned. The loneliness was calling for the laughter, the conversations, and the exploration I had experienced the last few weeks. It was calling for the freedom of not knowing what the next day held, but being so excited to live it. It was calling for companionship, for connection, for being in harmony with the ebb and flow that I had settled into.

I’ve lived in five countries and I’ve traveled to 30 others. I’ve spent nights camping under the stars on a beach. I’ve had conversations that lasted until the late hours of the morning. I’ve journeyed through different seasons of life, of grief, and of love, but I’ve never journeyed to a place I didn’t choose, a place where I’d live alone for nine months. To be so full one moment, and so empty the next – it’s the curse and beauty of making the decision to leave your home and embrace the new life you’ve set out.

Oh, how beautiful that life is. The moments that make it all worth it, the friendships that make you believe a friendship could last forever, the laughter that fuels more laughter, the passion that ignites itself when you see a new place, and the unexpected beauty of letting go of your plan a little bit more each day. That’s the fullness that makes the loneliness disappear. It makes the loneliness just another wave in this ocean, a wave that I’ll be riding into the next chapter of this journey, wherever it takes me.