Writing and photos by Tori Dudys
“Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
I can see why you might assume I took my trip to North Berwick, a seaside town in Scotland, on my own. The title of this post somewhat suggests I did. But I didn’t. I went with a new friend who kept me from falling while bounding over slippery grass and rocks. Bottom line, I had someone to point me in the right direction during our trip and if I’m being honest with you and myself, at that point I probably wouldn’t have gone out there on my own strictly out of fear of the unknown and being alone in a new place.
After a couple hours of walking across grassy fields and climbing cliffs by the shore and learning about sea birds and quartz, we sat on the rocks by the water and watched a fisherman at work. He was alone with not but his rain gear and fishing rod, just standing overlooking the water waiting for a catch. The sun was about to set.
I’ve always known there’s a peace in being alone, but sometimes when I’m on my own my anxieties heighten and I get very antsy. Time passes slow and out of desperation I whip out any form of technology I can to push away the all-consuming loneliness that seems to almost punch holes in my chest from the inside out. Sending Facebook messages or seeing what friends are up to on Instagram takes the sting out of loneliness, at least momentarily. I completely understand how millennial that sounds and how absolutely surface-level that solution is, but it’s something I always catch myself doing regardless.
However, seeing this fisherman, almost statuesque just standing, watching, waiting, without a phone or book in his hands to keep his mind preoccupied, instilled in me a renewed understanding of the importance and ease of being alone.
Living in a new city where I know virtually no one can sometimes be unsettling. But with anonymity comes reinvention, self-improvement, and self-acceptance. I guess what I’m trying to say is being alone is healthy. So is being surrounded by people you love. Wherever you find yourself, as long as you’re comfortable in your own mind with your own thoughts, you can enjoy or at the very least find meaning in whatever it is life throws at you.
As I’m heading to the airport, about to embark on my first real solo travel excursion in Norway, I find myself thinking about the fisherman in North Berwick. Though nervous to travel completely alone for the first time, I’m hopeful and excited that by the time my trip has come to a close, I will have my own metaphorical fishnet full of interesting experiences and a reinvigorated sense of self.