On a recent trip to Milwaukee and subsequent return, I did some deep soul searching because 1. I returned to the place where I quit my job and thought about what turns my life had taken in the months since then and 2. I was in the car alone for 21 hours which allowed a lot of time for thinking, singing (loudly I might add), self-help audio books (yes, go ahead and judge), and podcasts.
You would think that after living away from home for almost 10 years I would be aware of my ‘happy place.’ It took moving back home after a ‘failed career’ for this realization. For some people a physical home is their happy place. They love being around mom, dad, siblings, their children, or whomever. Don’t get me wrong, as I do enjoy these things, in small doses. However, they have never and may never be the place where I experience my truest sense of joy and self-acceptance.
Driving Alone = My Happy Place
I may be a weirdo here, but I realized road tripping across the US that when I’m driving on the open road alone, windows down, singing in my car, I am experiencing my ‘happy place’ in those moments. This is when I feel the most independent, creative, and free to be myself. There is no one to judge what song I’m singing (or how loud), to care about when or where I stop, what snack I eat, or what picture I take. These drives also give me plenty of time to think and reflect. I get a similar feeling when I walk through the woods alone; I just unfortunately spend significant more time in my car. There is also an added sense of excitement and adventure with physically traveling somewhere.
There are probably people reading this that are thinking, “You have to be crazy because being in my car is stressful. I hate traffic and I don’t like driving.” I can empathize in some respects and I am definitely not talking about sitting on a freeway in Houston. I am talking about taking back country roads, cross-country highways, and seeing beautiful landscapes.
Enjoy your Own Company
Any other strong independent women (or men for that matter) that feel the same way when they hit the road? If you haven’t done it, I strongly recommend taking a trip by yourself. There is something to be said about being on your own timeline, enjoying your own company (i.e. being completely comfortable alone), and doing whatever the F*** you want! It’s liberating to say the least.
I am always surprised by the reactions I get when people find out that I travel alone. I never thought that it was that strange. Maybe this is because I have always had a fiercely independent mother that raised me to be pretty self-sufficient. I have driven 12+ hours alone, more times than I can count since I was a teen. I know there are a wide range of opinions out there from people saying “pssshh that’s nothing” to some that would be surprised that a teen would travel alone. Of course, I was always safe and tried to be aware of my surroundings.
Vacation, Party of 1?
One of the best trips I took was when I went to Canada alone last year. I will admit that when planning the trip I wished I had someone to go with, more for fun and company than anything else. I went alone because I had a week vacation from work, my friends were working, and my family was in Texas. So, I headed off from Milwaukee, drove to Toronto and Niagara Falls, and had an amazing time! There were only minor hiccups, such as the border agents looking at me a little confused when I told them I was going on vacation. “Oh, meeting someone?” they said, “no just going alone” I responded; that got me a few more questions. I think they thought I wouldn’t return from Canada!
Make Pit stops
On this last road trip, I was so inspired listening to audio books and music, that I stopped 3 or 4 times to take pictures or write. I have NEVER done that before. I am a point A to point B person, so it was incredibly freeing to take my time and allow myself to explore my interests and not restrict myself. Why have I always been in a rush? I don’t know what programmed this innate sense of urgency in me? My internal dialogue is always flowing when I’m driving whether its creating to-do lists, thinking of business ideas, visualizing photos of landscapes, or realizing new perspectives. In any case, I am thoroughly enjoying my time DRIVING IN my happy place or TO WHEREVER my next ‘happy place’ will be. I encourage you to explore yours; I guarantee you won’t regret it once you let yourself go there.