As I sat in the dentist chair the other day to get some work done and was telling the doctor and assistant about how I would be moving to Europe in about 50 days and wanted my teeth to look nice, they both asked me why I was moving. The doctor asked me if it was for a job. The assistant asked me if it was for a man. I would like to thank the doctor and his assistant for their participation in the continuing discussion of why people find it so odd for young women to travel alone or even move abroad alone.
This isn’t the first time someone has asked me if I was moving for a job or a man. I’m not really offended by the question anymore. It’s honestly a bit comical. Especially when the first person to ask you this question is your mom. Your self proclaimed “feminist hippie chick” mom who moved where and when she wanted for whatever reason she wanted. I think this specific irony is what makes the whole thing so laughable.
As girls (at least my generation) we are taught, in theory, that we can do anything and everything boys can (except maybe pee standing up), but in reality, there is always the subversive undertone of “just because we taught you that you can, doesn’t mean you should”. God! If I had a nickel for every time any of the empowerment speeches I was ever given were laced with that load of crap, I would literally be the wealthiest person in the world but I don’t so I’m not wealthy, but I’m well traveled.
I’ve traveled to 11 countries so far. Probably 9 of them alone or meeting up with complete strangers who would then become people I knew. I’ve rented cars alone. Done physical activities (skydiving, hiking, biking) alone. I walked cities in twilight hours alone. I’ve heard the subversive undertones of those speeches and wiped them from my memory. I’ve ignored them completely. And I am so glad I have.
Traveling alone, in your home city or state or country, is one of the most freeing things.