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Solo Travel and the Unchecked Baggage of Depression (Part 2)

11:45-until - The waiter makes himself busy with anything besides attending to me. He started goofing around with co-workers, made multiple trips downstairs to drop off quarter-full bus tubs, even brought the check to a table who was seated and finished after me. He returned to my table, but only to pick up the last bit of silverware that was left there - a quick grab and go, I only got as far as to repeat "can I have the che-" before he was off to his station, dumping my knife into his bucket and making yet another trip downstairs.

11:54 (6 minutes before the metro stops running) - He made his way back to the sauce-stain table and was having the time of his life talking to the group casually and showing them some things on his phone. I noticed he was speaking to them in English, which only made me question why he didn't try English with me if there had truly been a communication barrier as I'd assumed. Furious, I left fifteen euros on the table and walked out.

Not SIXTY SECONDS passed before the man came outside running after me to tell me I was fifty cents short on the check. Gotta say I'm proud of myself for refraining from telling him where he could shove that fifty cents.

He left me alone and I got on my first train just in time to make it home. When I got off, my heel got stuck in a large metal grate on the floor of the train station. Unaware, I lifted my foot to take a step and the entire grate lifted up with it, leaving a nasty and painful bruise as it dragged up the skin on my opposite ankle. I stood there shaking my foot around until the grate finally fell off.

Approaching my transfer stop, I walked past a group of three young men who - not present to see grate-gate - made it a point to make fun of me, mimicking the way I walked and laughing in my face as they mocked me. (I thought I was making too much of this until it happened to me a separate time days later.) Boarding the second train, I noticed a man staring at me uncomfortably. He eventually sat next to me, which made me nervous that he intended to follow me. Even though he got off after a few quick stops, the perceived threat was the straw that broke the camel's back for the night.



However unfair it may be to extrapolate based on extremes, this night was woefully emblematic of my time in Barcelona. It's a vicious cycle being overcome by depression and trying to find a way out of it only to be triggered even further as a result.

Anxiety aside, pride makes it harder to admit that I won't be returning home with some awe-inspiring story about how I lived my Cheetah Girls fantasy getting swept up in the stupor of the city. I realize, though, that not liking my experience doesn't change its value. Predicating judgments of reality upon erroneously perceived external expectations, or even upon unrealistic personal ones, will always be an incongruous equation that results in blindness to the silver lining. And perhaps "silver lining" isn't even the right term. Looking for a "bright side" implies a situation is dark when, in fact, it's the opposite. During my time spent abroad I've truly accomplished so much:

  • After two years of struggling with commitment to my business, I've designed and published my own website, grown my blog to 30 articles with loyal and consistent readership, and started collecting sign ups for my email list.

  • Even though I didn't secure any business partnerships, I've observed my personal working style and learned how to set and achieve more realistic goals.

  • I may not have gone country-hopping in Europe, but I still collected three new stamps in my passport.

  • I've advanced four levels of Spanish fluency.

  • I tried activities like surfing, pole dancing, and aerial silks for the first time and discovered a love for adrenaline sports and outdoor meditation.

  • I didn't gel with any one big group, but I did make individual connections with new friends and mentors that will last for the rest of my life.

And no - I didn't fall in love with Barcelona. But so what? That, too, is something I now know only because I had the courage to try and keep trying in the first place. I'm walking away with a better sense of how to prepare for challenges that may arise as I continue to travel - and I can even use what I've learned about my lifestyle preferences to make bigger decisions in the future like where I might want to live or what kinds of communities I want to be part of.

My sense of self-love, self-honor, and self-understanding is greater now than it has been at any other point in my life, and that fruit is born of the labor past versions of myself have been resilient enough to continue. In the moments where I'm tempted into that looming sentiment of regret, I fight back with gratitude. I have nothing to do but look inward at my growth and success, holding close the comfort that I've done my best, I am where I belong, and all of it has set me up for unimaginable rewards in the future.

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