Being alone vs. being lonely as a solo female traveler

The sounds and smells of the city surround me as I walk the streets. Someone’s performing at an outdoor stage around the corner for the comedy festival that’s in town, the scent of Malaysian food wafts towards me as I cross the road, a street musician plays the riff of one of my favorite Fleetwood Mac songs, ironically enough called, “Never Going Back Again”.

The tram whirls past me and comes to a stop, a mass of bodies push past me, I jump on just before the doors close and I jolt to another part of the city. Aimlessly I wonder the streets as I go, looking for work or something intriguing to catch my eye or take up my time for today.

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This is how I spend my days, alone in the sprawling city of Melbourne. It’s something I’m adjusting to. I’m used to always having someone to call or to hang out with. I’m used to all my friends and family back in the States being there for me in person, or at least in the same time zone.

I’ve always been extremely independent, but to call me a relationship person would be an understatement. I haven’t been truly “single” for more than a couple months at a time since I first started dating in high school, and even then, I’m usually dating someone casually before another serious relationship begins. I realize that even though I may cherish my temporary alone time, I don’t really know how to be alone for a long span of time. How to revel in that aloneness, appreciate my singledom, my freedom. And what better way to learn than to fly across the world, having a grand total of two friends in the city, forcing me to be left alone with my thoughts for the majority of my Aussie days.

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After almost 23 years, I’m finally learning how to be alone. I don’t know if it’s from living in as vibrant a city as 24-hour Melbourne (bars and clubs don’t even close until 6am), but however much I constantly find myself alone, I rarely catch myself feeling lonely. Perhaps I’ve finally learned the art of how to be alone without being lonely. How to appreciate this time completely for myself, and know that it’s okay to take a step back from the busy pace of life and finally figure some things out.

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Of course, this doesn’t stop me from walking into random hostels to learn how to play poker, not knowing a soul. Nor does it keep me from finding myself spending nights at rooftop bars, having dinner parties with people I barely know, or even just drinking beer and watching TV with my new housemates.

I don’t know what will happen tomorrow, or the day after, or any day that I wake up in this foreign place, but I know that it’s exciting, it’s new, and the possibilities are all mine to choose.

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Mimi McFadden
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Mimi McFadden

Travel Writer/Blogger at The Atlas Heart
Mimi founded The Atlas Heart to create a community of travelers inspired to see the world. The Atlas Heart is a space where you'll find anecdotes on slow travel, craft beer, outdoor adventures, and all the eccentric bits in between that this world has to offer.
Mimi McFadden
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