I’m traveling alone. It scares the sh*t outta me... But I'm still going.

THIS POST CONTAINS LIGHT SWEARING.

It was probably 3 am in the morning. I’ve been playing with the idea of hitting the purchase button on the expedia page that I was on that had the best prices I had yet to find for a round trip ticket from Chicago to Casablanca. I guess Tuesday is the new day to buy cheap flights, because the price was riiight (under $700 for a round trip ticket and a 21 hour long layover in Madrid which gave me just enough time to explore the city). Honestly, I’ve been watching out for tickets for months. I was actually putting off buying this particular ticket for weeks! I had told people I was thinking of going on a solo trip to Morocco and had been describing the super dope tour I found that would take me all over the country and push my boundaries (give me life experiences, make me a better human, etc.)… But now I had to face the social accountability of actually going through with what I was saying (thank you peer pressure)! Part of me wanted to have my “Eat, Love, Pray” trip, but the other part of me was like “WTF are you trying to prove to yourself and to others Megan Rae!?”  It was easier for me to say that I was thinking of going on this trip than actually making it happen. I felt much more comfortable pushing the trip to the end of the year so I can put it on the back burner and made all these excuses as to why I hadn’t bought the ticket yet. “I have to pay for my parent’s new flooring in their kitchen.” “We’re moving into a new event studio so I should wait on making any big purchases, just in case.” “My sister’s pregnant.” Yep, I actually managed to turn my sister’s pregnancy into a way to convince myself that I wasn’t afraid of going to a different continent on my own, I was just trying to be a monetarily prepared younger sister/ future aunt, right? I mean, he’s not my baby, but he’s still important! Then there I was sitting on my bed in the middle of the night. I scrolled up and down the page for what felt like the millionth time and hit “Purchase”. Immediately after I freaked the fuck out.

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I commute alone everyday, I like to fly to different states around the US on my own, I don’t mind taking myself out to nice meals and sitting in parks to people watch by myself, but I’ve never spent 2 weeks traveling on my own. I’m pretty damn independent and I have traveled abroad in the past, but this time there was an actual fear that I never felt before. I remember sitting in my sister’s living room one night watching Doctor Who and seeing a part where they show up in some sleepy town in England (yes, JOLLY OLD ENGLAND) and all of a sudden 1,000 thoughts run through my head. “If England can look dark and scary at night, what about Morocco?!”, “Is my train going to look sketchy and creepy going from city to city at 6 am in the morning to catch my flight home?”, “What if I get lost?”, “What if I get robbed?”. “What if there’s aliens in the desert?!”. That last thought was real because, well… I was watching Doctor Who at the time. I had shivers and felt physically ill from how nervous and anxious I got. I’m pretty sure I had a mini panic attack. There were other emotional things I was dealing with at the time so I may have been displacing some negative thoughts from the other dark corners of my mind  into my “I’m low key afraid of Morocco” bucket that night, but still, I never thought a trip would scare me so much. Let’s get this straight, I’m not so much afraid of the country or the people/culture, but more or less afraid of being so far away from my comfort zone. I’m afraid of having no one to turn to in case something becomes mildly inconvenient or uncomfortable. Im afraid of not being in control.

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You know what they say, “Do something that scares you everyday”. Well, I guess I took that pretty literally. As a way of life, I don’t like living with “what if’s” or regrets so  if I generally feel compelled to do something I usually say “Fuck it” and give it a try (*this ethos doesn’t apply to things a person should not do like eat 7 buckets of fried chicken in one sitting or punch rude people on the train). That way of thinking brought me to some pretty cool jobs in the past, creating Lil Epic Design, and being an extremely honest person with my thoughts and how I feel. I guess it also lead me to taking this solo trip. I knew from the beginning of 2018 that I would need to go be by myself for a while in order to stay sane. I don’t know about y’all, but my 2018 has been LITERALLY CRAZY and I knew since February, that if I didn’t take some time out for myself, that I would probably need to go to therapy. Actually, I probably shouldn’t rule the therapy out, but I’m relatively self aware that my work schedule and social responsibilities are the major causes of my anxieties. With a full-time job in the Financial Sector, a growing business that I co-own with my (pregnant for most of the year) sister I basically have 2 full-time jobs, lots of responsibilities professionally and personally, and I probably work close to 120 hours a week. Add in adulting, hormones, student loans, whatever amazing highlights your old high school and college classmates are posting on Facebook/Instagram when you’re scrolling through and that’s basically a recipe for a breakdown (or 2… or 3). I’ve been living like this for years and it’s all starting to catch up with me mentally and physically- especially this year.

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Blame God, divine timing, mercury retrograde, the universe having a questionable sense of humor or whatever your cup of tea is- this year was extremely hard for me mentally and physically and I need to escape for a little while. I need/want to shake up my senses and do a hard reset. I feel like I’ve been functioning on autopilot for so long and not really experiencing things or letting myself be present. I want a change in my perspective and to dig deep and face my biggest critic head on- myself. I want to meet new people from different cultures and get to know them, but I’m really kinda trying to get to know myself better. I’m not trying to discount the amazing experiences I hope to have along this trip. In fact, I think that the experiences I hope to have on this trip is going to be the catalyst that helps me figure myself out better. I need to take myself out and relearn what I’m like when I’m not in work-mode, trying to be professional, or palatable, or diffusing a high stress situation (that can really be about linen colors… not saying that’s not important, but linens aren’t exactly life and death). I need to reintroduce myself to the way I act when I’m truly feeling things like joy or struggle. I want to be selfish with my time and my energy because I feel like I’ve been dedicating so much of my life to providing time and energy to others. I guess one of the positive aspects of going to a foreign country where I don’t really speak the language (like at all) is that I’ll have to actually be more cognizant of the way I communicate to myself. You don’t really realize how bad you talk to yourself until you’re all you got left to talk to. I want to meet the Megan Rae who is in awe and appreciation of how small she really is in this vast world and who is always down to ride camels into the desert or learn how to make bread in a communal oven that is hundreds of years old. I want to meet her hiking in a gorge by a rural town in Morocco or in Spain touring a palace or eating Tapas. Trust me, this trip definitely still scares the shit outta me, but I know that if I want to get to know the inner parts of me that are so unknown and come back a better human, I gotta go.

by megan rae