“Self-reliance is the only road to true freedom…” – Patricia Sampson
Traveling around the world, mostly alone, for the past four years has made me extremely self-reliant. I know that, no matter how hard or dramatic a situation may seem, I have a good chance of survival. It is also likely that I won’t need to depend on anyone else to pull me out of trouble, to comfort me, or to help me. I will deal with it in a swift manner and try to learn the lesson the problem holds for me.
This is a practice I apply to business ventures too. One of the ways that I maintain my financial freedom is to diversify my sources of income. My money comes from different places to ensure that I don’t lose everything if one part of my internet business changes dramatically in one day, or one of my coffers dries up. I chose to become an entrepreneur and work for myself instead of others so I don’t have to keep up with the whims of others.
I also believe this is excessively important in social relationships, especially if relocating to a new city. Getting to know different kinds of people and maintaining a level of flexibility is the best way to really enjoy a place.
Unfortunately, this is a lesson that I continually fail to learn. I always put too many of my social eggs in one basket, and that basket is always male.
He is usually some combination of cute and fun and we hit it off right away. After I meet him I stop bothering to reach out to people, to make different friends, to expand my social circle. Everything is great and exciting until things change and they’re not anymore. Then I am left feeling lonely and frustrated and thinking to myself, How could I have let this happen AGAIN? And then I leave the place and the person in total flight mode, feeling sad and hopeless and that the only way to resolve the problem is to go far, far away.
The old adage states that we will continue to face the same problems again and again until we learn from them and change our behavior. While I’m a quick learner in most aspects of life, I’m somewhere at the kindergarten level here. This situation has repeated itself no less than four times before in four distinct places, and here we are again.
There are few things I can think of that are more depressing than losing a playmate, especially in a strange city where you have no kind of established social network to speak of. Actually arriving in the city knowing no one is easy, but feeling that sense of loss? Crushing.
That’s why it’s completely detrimental to rely on one person or thing for fulfillment. Relationships are temporary, just like everything else on earth. People’s interests change, they may go somewhere else, or die, or they might come to prioritize another relationship over the one you have.
The only person guaranteed to be with me for the rest of my life without fail is the woman who stares back at me in the mirror every day.
This doesn’t have to be a tragic or depressing story. If we look at it through an extreme realism perspective, understanding and accepting the fact that one day the fun will end with everyone who crosses our path, we are better able to live in the moment and extract as much joy from every encounter we have.
When I’m the one on the move, this is much simpler to practice. I come to a new place, I meet people and enjoy them, and then I leave, off to the next adventure. The ones that stay are always the ones that suffer more. Since I’m the one staying this time, my landscape changes every time someone comes in or out of my life. It’s a trippy role reversal that is proving hard to adjust to. I am starting to understand why people who live in touristy areas don’t want to meet visitors anymore.
It’s so important to continuously look within for that source of fulfillment. While external parties may do the job for a short time, they are fleeting, and when they stop giving, we feel empty again.
I am obsessed with self-reflection. The questions I ask myself daily are: What do I want out of life? What do I want to achieve? What’s important to me? What skills would I like to develop? Who do I want to be?
None of these answers come from outside of me. The path to self-fulfillment and happiness is a solo journey.