Prior to leaving for my first ever trip, the only thing on my mind was getting homesick. I was worried, because this was going to be a huge step for me. I was going on a plane to Greece, all by myself (well, I did have relatives there I’d be staying with, so technically, I wasn’t going to be alone). At first, however, I didn’t think I’d be able to cope with being separated from my parents by such a vast distance, as I was so used to living at home.
I was only seventeen years old. At that age, there is still a lot of mental development going on, and flying thousands of kilometres away to the other side of the world seemed like a pretty far out thing to do, especially since I only really started talking to people two years ago. The whole week prior to departure I was anxious and worried, but I had dedication, and what scared me more, was giving up. I definitely did not intend to let that happen. I knew I had to force myself to break out of my comfort zone and adapt to a completely new environment in order to help myself grow.
That was not the only reason I needed to go and do this crazy thing. I was interested in this girl who I’d met online, who was from another European country, and I wanted to travel to that country to see her, and see what would come of it. This was the main reason I felt so strongly about needing to live outside of my normal living standards. After all, if I didn’t give it a try, I would have never known if it would work out. I would have missed out on a very important and invaluable experience, with an unanswered question leaving me in regret.
There is also the travelling itself that I didn’t want to miss out on. In the last few weeks leading up to the trip, I had done a lot of research on the topic of solo travelling. It has become an ultimate life ambition, one that would give me fulfilment in life if I pursued it. If I could make this first step by going to Greece, I’d be able to find out. I didn’t intend to let anything stop me.
I wanted to stay in Greece for at least six months, perhaps up to a year or maybe even longer, depending on how things went. Within this time, I wanted to do plenty of travelling, perhaps around Greece and to a few other European countries. But most of all, I needed to go and pay a visit to the girl. I needed to prove to myself that I could do it.
The biggest problem with this, of course, was my parents. After all, I was only seventeen, so naturally, they were going to have a problem with it. Letting your beloved son go to a country all on his own where he doesn’t speak the local language is outright scary. At least in Greece, I had family members to reside with, but in the country the girl was from I had no one except her. My dad is one of the most negative-minded people I know. I had the biggest lecture of my life and heard it all, including the ever popular “they’re going to kidnap you and hold you for ransom”. I appreciated the concern, and I acknowledged that it was a possibility, but I had no reason to believe it. I love my parents more than anything and never want to see them hurt, and I am grateful to know that they do want what’s best for me. However, it’s important to be able to look past those judgments, even if they do sound like over-the-top paranoia. It’s their job to be paranoid – the important part is that they love me. As much as possible I needed to keep myself out of trouble, and stick to common sense.
I knew that I was going to do it. I had faith in myself. Ever since I made that move, my parents have grown to appreciate my efforts. Truth is, they had to let me go. I was no longer their “baby”. We are born, we grow up, we grow apart and start off on our own endeavours. I wanted to have a great year doing what I love doing, finding out who I am, and seeing how I fit into the world. It was a journey of self-discovery.
As for the relationship itself, it didn’t work out in the end. Not that I regret it; it was one of the most enriching experiences and lessons for me. One that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.
That first trip, and that first move, was the first part in my life where I started growing into a man, knowing that I had to face these challenges. I believed it was the turning point for being responsible, independent and adult enough to do things on my own. I am not the kind of person to give up. I was determined, as a man of the world who has many goals, ambitions, hopes and dreams. Not only was I willing to do this as a part of growing up, I was determined to do this as a personal passion and being myself.