Photo of me walking on the wooden pathway to Neak Pean

Self-discovery in Siem Reap

I used to believe that me wanting to be alone was a sign that my depression was coming back to hit me with full force.  Probably because when I was in my super dark space, I really just wanted to be left alone. I would feel like either my friends felt like they had to tiptoe around my feelings, or like I was burdening them with my sad state of mind. I suppose that is why I started to use my level of “social-ness” to gauge the condition my mental state was at that time.

As you may know, I’ve been extremely social over the last few months. I help out at a hostel just so I can have the opportunity to constantly meet new, unique people. Being social on this adventure was something that gave me the most anxiety of becoming a solo traveller. Having all of this success in my social life recently has been really uplifting and a great signal of my mental health. Don’t get me wrong, I’m someone who really likes to have their own space and time to be able to recharge. But typically I only need a day or two before I get bored or over anxious in my own thoughts.

However, for some reason on my most recent trip to Cambodia, I really wanted to enjoy it alone. That really scared me. As soon as I realized it, I felt instant panic. Oh no, what’s wrong? I’ve been kind of in a weird mood lately with the coming and going of friends here. Maybe that was it. Although when I really thought about it, nothing was wrong. Absolutely nothing. I know what you must be thinking, just because nothing was apparently wrong doesn’t make me immune to depression. Mental illness doesn’t need a reason to rear its ugly head.

You’re right, but it felt different this time. Instead of not wanting to be around people because I wanted to isolate myself, I just simply wanted to be alone. I wanted to revel in my own thoughts and imagination, dreaming of new travel destinations, and conjuring more and more topics to write about. I wanted to truly take all this time to myself, be selfish, and see exactly everything I wanted to see. It’s not that I didn’t want to be around people at all, I did meet a few other rad travellers as usual and was still able to enjoy that social aspect of being a backpacker.

I think that this is the moment I’ve been waiting for. Searching for. I mentioned on my social media that 2017 was the year I took my life back and started doing the things that I wanted to do. That still stands true as I’m living my dream right now. I always go back to think though, my main goal through travelling was to learn how to love and appreciate myself more. As cheesy or cliche as that may sound, isn’t that everyone’s goal? We are all looking for something or to find ourselves, right?

I thought I was already there, but I got distracted. Solo travelling, you are never really solo if you don’t want to be. It was great and I can never express enough how many cool people I’ve met. Because of this though, I unintentionally still relied on other peoples validation. Maybe this influx of having to deal with many important people to me leaving has shown me this truth. I thought my original goal was complete, but maybe it was just half complete with the illusion of a full success. Until now.

It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment it happened, but I believe it was on the drive to my hostel in Siem Reap. Cambodia is absolutely stunning. The locals that I had come across were genuinely friendly. Due to Cambodia being a very poor Country, the lifestyle is very different, even compared to Thailand. I noticed the whole vibe of Siem Reap was just so laid back and it’s spirituality; you can feel it in the air. That perspective humbled me. At that moment, I felt so elated. Yes, this is what I’ve been searching for.

The feeling of just being happy with yourself is one that is about as difficult to describe as the feeling of depression or anxiety. My neurosis still active and it is naive to think that there are only going to be all good days and pleasant thoughts. Maybe this is better worded as a change in mindset, but there is a change, and it is freeing.

I love people. I love being around people. However, this is my little solo trip to Siem Reap.

Thanks

–Candice

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