Travel Couples: Stop Wishing You Were Them
I glance to my left to see a little girl sitting with her mum. There are a lot of kids on this plane. A lot of couples. A lot of love. I’ve never been to Barcelona, but maybe it’s a place of romance, sangria, and soul mates. I smile as the girl rests her head on her mom’s arm and reaches up to play with her dangling earring.
By third grade I hated my body. I wished to be skinny, for my freckles to vanish, and for boys to like me. By middle school, I was already overwhelmed with a fear that I was going to be alone forever. That no one would ever love me. That nobody would ever choose me. And you know, the older I get, the more women I meet who are still waiting to be swept off their feet.
In pre-school we begin fantasising over princesses, castles, and chivalrous knights. By primary school, girls are chasing boys on the playground, begging them to take their cooties. By middle school, their allowance money is drained by a collection of push-up bras, eyeliner, mascara and v-necks that go almost as deep as their self-doubt. And by high school some spend their nights praying for a date to prom, a boyfriend, or any male attention, really. And maybe none of this applies to you, but for many, this continues to be a reality.
It seems to me that if we changed the way we raised our girls, the world might find itself with a much happier, healthier, and independent class of women. Which is ultimately what I’m pursuing right now. To be happy, alone. It’s certainly possible, common even, to find someone before this stage. Probably easier too, to have someone assure you at each transition, each life decision, that either way, they’ll still love you. But can you really figure out who you are with someone right beside you?
There’s a social media trend going on that you might be aware of: travelling couples. Instagrams of happy and in love people, exploring the world together. Alexis Ren and Jay Alvarez, Stephen and Jess, or Murad Osman and Natalia Zakhorva – the last of which may sound familiar from their famous “Follow Me To” series.
Even as I am currently studying abroad, girls in my program constantly yearn to be like the cute couples we see lying on the beach, walking down the street hand-in-hand, or kissing over a glass of wine at dinner. Now it’s not at all my intention to criticise these couples, but rather to enlighten the young women out there staring at them with envy.
Go see the world. And do it alone. Take a risk and do something that makes you scared, anxious even. Find the terrace at your hostel in Spain and sit in the sun, watching the laundry blow in the wind. Plan a trip, and do it for you. Allow yourself to be alone with your thoughts, to be uncomfortable even. You might have nights where you lay in bed, wishing you were home. Or days where you just want to stay inside. Your problems won’t go away. Learn what makes you happy, what makes you depressed, excited, sad, learn as much as you can.
Its not easy, it’s not quick, but I think it might be a path towards inner peace. Get to know yourself and if you’re lucky, you might just discover a new sort of happiness. Happiness and a belief in who you are as a person. A comforting tranquility in the presence of your own company and a soothing lull as the world hums around you.