June 8, 2017 Helen

Facebook’s algorithms do often find themselves perplexed as to what to advertise to me: be it a hopeful advertisement for Clearblue’s most advanced new pregnancy test, which presumably tells if you’re pregnant before even having sex… or some questionable Smirnoff cocktail berry blended drink (I’m 27, Smirnoff. You will forever be the simple Smirnoff Ice.) or even a ‘discount door’ company, which whilst financially savvy feels somewhat irrelevant to a woman who moved back in with her parents 8 months ago.

Despite this a few weeks ago (and after a significant decision for a woman of my ‘slightly’ anxious disposition) I decided travel was needed in my life. And not the holiday kind. The sling a huge backpack on your back, sleep in dormitories with other intrepid explorers and ‘find yourself’ kind of travel. And since this revelation and subsequent internet searching, Facebook has caught up. The other day, a pertinent advert simply stated (with inspirational sunset picture background, obviously):
‘Why you’ll love travelling with your best friend. Together you’re unstoppable.’

Truth is Facebook: I’m going it alone.

So, why?

Having moved home suddenly from London, leaving a life, a flat and the man I thought I was going to spend my life with, I found myself very much in need of ‘happiness’. I picked up pieces of ‘a life’ again, went back into teaching (it’s what I knew and am told I am good at), rediscovered old friendships and began to try and build new networks. Sadly, most of my attempts to build new networks were conducted through the medium of Tinder and by networks, I mean find a ‘new man’. I felt in need of a partner for all the adventures I’d always wanted to go on and somehow unable to do them alone.

It transpires that those multiple failed dates and disappointments were in fact the best thing to ever happen to me. It (eventually) highlighted that, in truth, I was just trying to replace something I had lost. By doing this and continuing to stick my head in the sand of obsessive swiping, I didn’t really have to deal with the core issue, which was me being okay with me. Me being happy without anyone else validating me or my existence.

But as is the way, it took time to realise that the life I’d ‘picked up’ was not the life I really wanted. I’m a good teacher, but it’s not good for me and I began to resent the hours of marking, planning and unnecessary paperwork. I began to realise I didn’t even want a relationship and the thought of being in one filled me with a claustrophobic dread. So, after a numb Easter holidays and the deletion of my favourite swiping game, I decided enough was enough. Time for another wholesale change in my life.

I quit my job and decided that 2017 would be the year I’d just do me.

Three weeks later and three hypnotherapy sessions later (it’s a revelation – but more on that another time) I was booking my flights for an initial three-month adventure around China and Australia.

So yes, Facebook, this ‘slightly’ (okay, very) anxious, super-sensible 27-year-old is travelling half way around the world. Alone. Oh, and whatever ‘being unstoppable’ means, I hope to be that alone. All-by-myself-unstoppable.