Following My Own Feet

            Being alone is one of the scariest things we experience as human beings. We always long for a hand to hold, a body to hug, or just a pair of eyes to look into. Or perhaps I’m wrong, maybe some people enjoy the solace and don’t enjoy the company of another spirit. I experienced my first journey alone this past week when I traveled to Spain for a week on my own–the first half at least.

            I was actually quite excited to venture on my own and explore a foreign country. My first stop was Seville and I fell in love with Spain immediately. There was so much beauty in the history, the cathedrals, and the long, narrow, shaded streets that wound through the city like a maze. Every corner I turned, I discovered something new. A flamenco dancer in the middle of a plaza, a garage door painted with the California flag, and many amazing cafes. I stayed at a very beautiful hostel, perhaps the nicest one in existence even. I met a bunch of friendly people and on my last night I sat outside and shared a drink with five other people, each from different countries, who spoke different languages and were each traveling alone. I found comfort in knowing that no matter where I go, there are people discovering the world alone as well. Not relying on anyone for comfort or guidance, but rather following their own desires and instincts.

            That’s something I’ve been struggling with. I find myself adjusting to meet the needs of other people, trying to fit in with friends and meeting everyone else’s needs before focusing on my own. Leaving Seville, I came down from my high a bit. As did the weather when the rain began to pour in Madrid. I had some friends that were in the city as well. But they were traveling in a group and had their own plans. When they found it convenient, they invited me to hang out with them and I had to stop what I was doing and accommodate them because I thought being with them would be fun. It was nice for a minute being with familiar faces, but it felt forced.

            I left the rain behind me and hopped my train to Barcelona, my final stop on my weeklong break. I was looking forward to it the most because I was meeting up with some of my closest friends from America. The sun came out a little bit and I warmed up, as I was able to be myself and share this amazing city with people who cared about me reciprocally. We shared so many laughs, food, and LOTS of Sangria. The gorgeous, indescribable Sagrada Familia and other Gaudí works we saw left me speechless. Barcelona is so rich with culture and beauty and it radiated through me. For a moment I forgot about life’s responsibilities, and my inner child was reborn.

            However, there were still times when my adult self needed to wake up and resume responsibilities. When the group was indifferent or couldn’t make a decision or didn’t feel comfortable enough stating what they wanted, I felt as if I needed to assume the role of the middleman. I naturally aim to please everyone around me and therefore, sometimes I forget my wants are just as important to my wellbeing. When a bit of drama ensued near the end of the trip, I quickly acted to satisfy all parties involved, while maintaining composure (or at least attempting to).  This meant sacrificing what I instinctively knew I wanted. Luckily, I had some support in that moment to talk it out and realize I have to do what makes me happiest, even if it means someone else won’t agree.

            It isn’t always healthy to sacrifice what’s important to you to fit in or appease others. You have to do what is necessary for your own path, your own journey. Simply follow the foot that is in front of you. I began my trip alone and got lost along the way, but I believe it was a path I needed to find my way out of, just like the streets of Seville. I discovered things I wouldn’t have found if I hadn’t struggled and figured it out on my own. Overall, I had a wonderful week in Spain and I left a piece of my heart there. I’ll be back one day to reclaim it, until then–hasta luego. 

Marc Jordan CohenComment