“Yeah, so whether you know this or not, I really look up to you. From reading some of your posts (having 18 different addresses) and seeing your pictures and your passion for sports, you are an idol of what I want to be like when I grow up. How do you do it? How do you manage to spend so much time alone traveling but still be sane?”
Kyle posed some serious questions about my life that I had never explained to anyone before. In fact, I had never really even given those questions about loneliness much thought until now.
Even just hearing that someone looks up to me is inspiring in itself. It’s one more way to affirm that my decisions, though tough, are good ones.
As far as spending time alone is concerned; I have always been a people person. I love being surrounded by people. It doesn’t matter the type of crowd, I enjoy mixing with all sorts of people!
Taking a step backwards though, it could be said that my life has been full of disappointments. My parents’ split, having to move so often and reestablish myself time and again, and maybe even my lack of a long term relationship since 2005-06. These would be considered disappointments by many, but not me. I don’t really look at those things in a negative light. It’s all about perception. I think of the positive, and look at how these things have helped form who I am today. I’m still a work in progress, but I have enjoyed where I’ve been and what I’ve done.
Throughout my life there have certainly been times where I feel like, “Damn, where are my friends at?” In fact, I have very recently asked myself that. This is where loneliness might come into play.
My friends in life have always come as a result of activities I am doing: sports, youth group, music, etc.. With an exception of 2 or 3 people in my life, this has been fairly consistent. When I was younger, I played baseball so I hung out with other baseball players. As a teen, I taught myself how to skateboard, so I hung out with other skateboarders. In high school, I taught myself guitar so I hung out with other music lovers. Late in high school and into college, I spent a lot of time by myself practicing soccer. This resulted in hanging out a lot with fellow soccer players. To this day, soccer is probably my go-to connection wherever I travel. It has helped me connect with people all over.
I’ll take another step back. If you are alone, in a new place and know no one; it is your own responsibility to put yourself out there to meet new people. They won’t just come to you. When I moved to Seoul, for the first two weeks I felt really lonely. It wasn’t until I really put myself out there in an attempt to meet people that I started to feel settled with my decision to move away from almost everyone I’ve ever known. I did this through soccer and randomly joining people from couchsurfers.org for a party the night of my birthday.
Then again when I got to Manila; the first few days of loneliness were fixed when I put myself out on a limb. I hopped in a taxi and headed off to a country club 45 minutes from where I was living, all on a chance that I might have a chance to watch or play some soccer. It paid off! I was able to fill in for a player who didn’t show up, and we won the tournament.
So I guess for me, I combat loneliness by putting myself out there.
By just doing what I love, I have been able to meet tons of new people who all share something in common with me. Even if a passion for soccer is the only thing we share, that is more than enough.
In college, my best friends Paul Ebenhoeh and Bertrand Coupet both shared a passion for soccer. Bert, being a French foreign exchange student, eventually went home. But a few years later I was invited to his wedding and had the opportunity to travel to France to meet his wife and celebrate their marriage with them. A memory I will certainly never forget!
While there, one of the coolest travelers I met was an Australian guy named Paul (a different Paul). I know that the first chance I get to travel to Australia; I would be more than welcome to stay with him and have him show me around. Travel encourages travel. One thing leads to another and you open up yourself to new opportunities.
So I guess overall; the world is my friend. If I’m doing something I love, then I will never be alone.