Traveling Alone Made Me Realize I'd Be A Terrible Girlfriend

by Sheena Sharma
Denni Van Huis

I recently got back from a solo Eurotrip.

Yes, infamously-always-single-as-hell Sheena, took a trip across the world all by my lonesome to sort out my shit, such as: What do I love in life, and why? Also, why am I still single? Why do all men suck? Is there something I'm doing wrong, and if so, what is it? 

Those questions, along with the fact that I'd fallen into a routine that left me drained (gym, work, bar with friends, sleep, repeat), fueled my desire to leave town.

So, I hopped on a plane that flew me across the Atlantic and over to the capital of Switzerland.

From there, I crossed the Franco-Swiss border into the North of France, and then I half-drunkenly stumbled my way to the South of Germany. I met people on trains just as passionate as me about their work (as different from writing as it was), and had conversations that made me proud to be a writer. The cultural clash invigorated me and my desire to write.

I kissed a cute boy and I kissed a sweet girl (accidentally). I climbed a mountain, and then I rewarded my impressive hike with Swiss wine at the top. All alone.

So, I hopped on a plane that flew me across the Atlantic and over to the capital of Switzerland.

See? I needed to get out of New York for a while.

As I was cruising around Western Europe, I wasn't mindlessly floating on auto-pilot, the way I had been back home. My senses were heightened in a way they hadn't been in a while. Everything felt shiny and new and possible again.

And unlike my alter New York ego, I failed to stomp around hating every man I hadn't yet met. I transformed from cynical city girl into wide-eyed wanderer.

One day, as I approached the top of a mountain called Niederhorn in central Switzerland, I found myself feeling invincible. It was like I could do everything I never thought I could do in the past, and anything ever asked of me in the future.

Everything I've ever wanted was in my hands and my hands only. So, if I really wanted a boyfriend who treated me the way I've always wanted to be treated, then, well, I'd have one.

But, oddly, that invincibility also made me feel selfish.

I'd planned this trip out all for myself and didn't ask anyone to accompany me. I'd chosen to walk around with nothing but a map, a dead phone and the occasional wine glass in my hand — free to do whatever I wanted and be with whomever I wanted, even if only for a night.

I couldn't help but gaze at every single beautiful man that walked by. I wanted to know more about him.

And I didn't want just one man. I wanted them all.

My friends and family doubted the intentions of my trip when I got back to New York.

"But didn't you feel alone?" they asked me.

"No," I replied.

It was the honest truth. Sure, I had my lonely moments, as any solo traveler does. But something about defying the odds and reaching 10,000 miles high made me want to do the whole thing all over again — only in a new place, with a new agenda. But again, alone.

On that mountaintop in Switzerland it hit me: I'm selfish. I'm so selfish that I genuinely don't know how to make room for anyone else's wants, needs and "I love yous" in my life.

Of course there is room in my life. I make room to get biweekly gel manicures, work out every single morning and, on some days, fly halfway across the world with a journal and my long-suppressed dreams.

But I don't make room for a man in any real capacity, and it's no accident. That's what made me realize that I wouldn't be a good girlfriend right now.

It was such a revelation. I've tirelessly been looking for a good boyfriend for years. But why did I ever think I deserved a good boyfriend if I wouldn't make for a good girlfriend? Who would want to commit to such a confused girl?

Traveling alone made me realize I wouldn't be a good girlfriend.

I loved the spontaneity of my travels, and being able to wander form one place to the next without having to consult someone. If I'd roamed around with someone, maybe I'd have climbed a different mountain entirely. Maybe I wouldn't have felt as accomplished as I felt climbing the behemoth I chose to climb all on my own.

The experience helped me realize that, for now, I want to fall in short-lived love with different men in different cities and not have to worry about the repercussions. Sometimes the best, short-lived romances take us places we wouldn't have otherwise gone. They fail to lose their flame. They are great in intensity, but short in duration and, of course, they make for the most wonderful stories.

The answers I'd been looking for had been inside me all along. I just had to go halfway across to world to find them.