Ihave the heart of a wanderer and the mind of a calculator. My spirit calls me to be free, but my mind usually holds me back. The wanderer in me desperately wants to see the places I’ve only dreamed about traveling to; however, it all seems far away and unattainable.

Me? Travel?

By myself?

I’m the type of person who researches everything to the core. I draft imaginary itineraries, find any and all possible pictures of places, and even go as far as tracking flight prices. Often, it is the thrill of potentially exploring that gets me hooked.

Yet I would never actually take the leap. I would make up excuses as to why I couldn’t travel. Too much money. Not enough time. What if I missed something while I was gone?

The reality was that I was holding myself back from finding my peace.

There was an open weekend in my calendar and I saw the opportunity that lay ahead. As an East Coast girl, I always dreamed of traveling to the West Coast. Although I had fantasized about making travel plans many times before, I knew this time was different.

I’m going to fly across the country,” I spoke into the universe. I started telling close family and friends that this was what I was going to do, so they would hold me accountable. Every day I would get messages reminding me that the world wasn’t going to come to me, I had to go out and explore it myself.

I didn’t know anyone there. I had never been there before. The only thing I knew was that the sun and the sea called me and I had to go.

One night I sat on my computer, breathed a deep sigh, and booked a plane ticket to California. Without fear or hesitation, it was a moment of courage, but that one moment, that one breath was enough to push me outside of my comfort zone.

With each step – from booking the plane ticket to securing a hotel room to boarding the plane, I felt more assured in the decision I made. Although I had a few must-do’s on my itinerary, I left my usually packed and planned schedule open to make space for true adventure.

Even if that meant getting lost and finding my way.

Traveling solo allowed me to listen and tune into others’ stories. The girl in the Uber who had just gotten her heart broken and was on the phone struggling to put the pieces back together. The proud yet somber parent dropping off her only child to her first year of college.

The world is so much larger than me and that brought me unprecedented peace. It reminded me that even on my most trying days, there was still someone out there struggling through a pivotal life challenge and that I’m not alone. In our messiness, fear, and wonder, we are all humans just trying to make sense of our stories and find our place in this world.

Being in solitude allowed me to reflect on who I was, what I wanted to do, and the woman I could be. The only person I had to answer to was myself. What did I want to do? What did I want to see? Where did I want to go? What brought me the most joy?

I was so used to catering to everyone else’s needs and drowning in other’s opinions that I forgot what the beating of my own heart sounded like.

As the world pulls me in multiple directions and requests come from work, school, family, and friends, I now remember what it means to find the solace in stillness. In tapping into my own needs above everyone else’s.

I took a dance class in LA, walked down Hollywood Boulevard basking in all of my tourist glory, and sauntered through Balboa Park taking in all of the breath-taking scenery.

I took myself to lunch in La Jolla, comfortable with my own presence, knowing that it was enough.

Watching the waves crash to the shore and swiftly float back, I was reminded of how important it is to be still and be present. To let the thoughts come, to acknowledge them. And let them float back.

It wasn’t just a chance to get to know the world outside of my own bubble, also to get to know myself.

I gained confidence as I threw other’s opinions to the wayside, asking strangers to capture the perfect picture for me because I wasn’t sure when I would be able to see the same sights in person again. I gained trust in my intuition… learned how to listen to myself and have faith in my calling.

I lost the sense of fear that held me back from doing so many things that I once talked myself out of.

Book the plane ticket. Get in the car. Drown out the external noise. Don’t let fear keep you stuck in the same cyclical routine.

You may just find your peace.

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