Why I stepped on that plane and went solo

“Sri Lanka on your own, are you crazy?!”

“Natalie, it’s not safe to do this on your own”

“Your going to Sri Lanka on your own? I’d never be that brave”

These were just a handful of examples of words I heard fall from people’s lips when I told them I was going to Sri Lanka and yes I was going by myself. People thought I was crazy. Hell, when I stepped on that SriLankan Airline plane I thought I was crazy. To be brutally honest I booked this trip on a whim, I hate to be predictable and for a number of reasons including wanting to do something to shock myself I booked a non-refundable airplane ticket to Sri Lanka with a return date 3 weeks later and booked myself onto a volunteer programme to occupy myself whilst I was there.

I’m a dreamer, and I love to wonder what the world is like in places outside cold, wet London but never did I once believe I would actually do it. Never did I once believe me, the girl who hates to be by herself in public would travel 5,408 miles away to a country I’ve never been to be before and go all by myself not knowing a single person there. But I did it. And it was… The greatest, most memorable thing I have ever done in my entire life.

As an average person my life is a little mundane. Straight from school, into work I was living an adult life whilst everyone around me was at university still being young. I felt like I was wasting away, and at 19 years old no way was I ready to give into the adult life. I needed to be young. I needed memories. I needed to remember why life is worth living because you do forget to appreciate things around you when your stuck in an office 9 to 5, 5 days a week. All I knew was how to work. It was my time to live. So I did something crazy, but I had it all planned. I never thought I’d go through with it though, but the days were coming closer and closer. Suddenly I found myself sitting at the airport trying not to cry whilst saying goodbye to my Mother, it was time to go through security and all of a sudden it all felt a bit too real. Then there I was sitting on the plane next too an overly large yet happy looking Sri Lankan man, watching the plane leave the ground and realising there was  definitely no going back from now.

So why did I step on the plane and why on earth did I go solo? Because I needed to and that was it. I was terrified, but that somehow encouraged me even more. Why play it safe anymore? I felt like I had nothing to lose and a million things to gain. It was time to be fearless, something I had never done before. It was time to take a risk and do something memorable for once. It was time to be selfish, and do something for me which I didn’t do an awful lot. It was time to actually start living my life. And during those 3 weeks I lived every single day. Ever seen that question lingering around “When was the last time you tried something for the first time?” Well in Sri Lanka I was trying everything for the first time. Every. Single. Day. And it made me feel… amazing. For the first time in a long time I really felt alive. I lost nothing (except a few pounds, unfortunately not in weight…) and gained a million (unfortunately this time not in the money sense).

And I do it all over again in a heartbeat.

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8 thoughts on “Why I stepped on that plane and went solo

  1. Hey Natalie! I came across your comment on goabroad.com and was so happy to read your blog. I myself am 19 and I’ve been pondering to go volunteer abroad. I’m definitely interested and want to do it but I’m also really nervous and so hesitant. I just wanted to say your blog really hit home for me and it definitely made me lean towards going a lot more. So thank you!

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    1. Hey! You’re welcome! Thank you so much for your comment, it means so much and I’m glad I could give you some sort of insight or make you feel better about going. I completely understand, I was so nervous before I went away and took ages to decide if it was something I should do and if it was actually something I could bring myself to do but as I mentioned in my post it’s definitely worth it! It’s really such an experience and helps you develop so much as a person. I hope you give it a chance, and if you do I hope you have an amazing experience!

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      1. I definitely want to! It’s just a really big step and so much to sort out so I’m real hesitant. I want to be spontaneous and just take the leap but it’s terrifying and I know my mom has come around to accept it for the most part but I hate making her so worried, ya know? But your blog helped a lot so thank you.

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      2. Yeah I know what you mean, just try to do as much research as you can about the country you want to go to and what you want to do as I think that’ll really help you prepare emotionally and mentally. But also I understand with your Mum, I was the same with mine. I just went through everything with her before I went so she knew I was with a safe organisation, and gave her all the details of the people she could contact out there if needed but it’s so easy to keep in contact in these countries especially if you’re prepared. As my iPhone is locked to a provider I just took a cheap unlocked phone out with me in Sri Lanka and brought a local sim card and was able to text my Mum almost everyday and call her sometimes too which I think made her feel much better. It was very cheap. Plus there’s always places you can go and get internet to keep in touch too. If you feel really hesitant about it though, maybe start off going somewhere closer to home or for a shorter period of time. That’s why I only went to Sri Lanka for 3 weeks, so it could give me an idea if it was something I could do or wanted to do more of (going away by myself that is). I’m glad I could help you though!

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  2. Hey Natalie,

    I just want to thank you for writing this. I’m 19 myself, and going to volunteer alone for the first time in my life. I also booked the program on a whim because suddenly I felt like I needed to be braver. Turns out I get more scared as the date looms closer. I’ve never gone on a flight alone in my life, let alone left by myself to people who don’t speak the same language (English is my second language). So I was really scared, and your post just gave me a burst of courage.

    Thanks a lot!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello! Thank you so much for taking the time and writing this, it means so much that I’ve helped you out a little bit – I wish you all the best on your time away, most of the time the hardest things to do have the best outcome so keep remembering that every time you get nervous and just try to relax and enjoy the ride! Try not to worry too much about the language aspect of it though, one thing I’ve found about volunteering in both Sri Lanka and Costa Rica was that there were people there from all over the world many whose first language isn’t English, so it’s likely a few people will be in the same situation. Good luck and have fun!!

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