BENGALURU: Solitary travel has been a key phrase in the quest for personal growth for some time now. The idea of the single person with their backpack, travelling on budget, staying with strangers in tourist hostels on bunk beds, interacting with people from across the globe, making all sorts of connections, playing music by the side of bonfires, roasting potatoes and what not in them, sharing a drink or more with new friends, discovering cultures and traditions – it is the stuff that searching for oneself is made of, not to mention movies like Eat Pray Love. Whether the travel is when one is single, never having been in a relationship, or at a later stage, having loved and now in a broken-up space, travelling by oneself is celebrated as a panacea for all identity crises.
Somehow though, one doesn’t talk as much about travelling away by oneself when one is already in a relationship. Just the idea of going away by oneself when in a relationship just doesn’t seem appropriate. It is generally about travelling together, or perhaps one person or all of them might travel occasionally on work, but those work trips are carefully managed. Everything about a work travel is monitored to being work-related, with perhaps a day or two of personal time where it might be ‘allowed’ to go to a museum or a park, or maybe a weekend of travel to a nearby tourist attraction, but it is a far cry from the kind of travel one talks of as a single person.
There is no space in this kind of travel to take weeks off and certainly not months or a year and more just to wander about to discover oneself, connect to the world around them and through that, to connect to oneself and each other. Why is that? Does being in a relationship mean that there is no further solitary self-discovery to be made? Are partners magically the key to finding oneself, in that if one manages to have found and kept a partner, then there is no question whatsoever that one has already found oneself absolutely and irrevocably? Does being partnered mean a surrendering of self- discovery?
One would hope that is not the case. We are all constantly evolving. Age changes us. Relationships change us. Our experiences change us. We discover new needs, desires, challenges. We find that what used to keep us happy doesn’t really do it anymore. Work becomes different, we treat work differently. Even within our relationships, how we relate and who we relate to constantly changes. Unless the relationships bend, change and evolve to go with the personal requirements of all involved in the relationships, it becomes a stress factor instead of the relaxing and affirming space we need our relationships to be.
At times like that, when relationships are not really helping us be ourselves, or we find ourselves grating against it, perhaps it is a good idea to get those backpacks down and go off again on solitary journey of self-discovery.
The author is a counsellor with InnerSight.