“I. Cannot. Get. These. FLIPPING. Blinds. Closed!” I muttered in my empty apartment room, through clenched teeth.
Initially, my inability to get the blinds closed was comical to me. I even took out my phone to record my struggle, which some of you may have seen on my Instagram Story.
What I didn’t show you was my even longer battle of myself trying to yank the chord as hard as I could. To the left. To the right. In a circle. Toward me. Away from me. In a star shape. I said a prayer. I even stood on the bed to examine the top of the chord only to step down one minute later deciding that it must have been broken. Welp, it looks like I’m sleeping with the blinds open and going to be awake at the butt crack of dawn, thanks to the sun.
But I guess, I resolved, if this is the main fault of my $45 per night last minute Airbnb apartment room rental in Chicago, then so be it.
How did I come about this hotel and my venture to Chicago? Let me rewind.
I know that some of you follow me on Instagram, so you saw a lot of my journey from my trip last weekend. But I know that most of you don’t have Instagram, so this is my way of sharing my thoughts all around about the experience with you all. For me, writing helps me process things and gives me that true time to reflect on events instead of letting them fly by in this crazy mess of life.
I’m going to be pretty vunerable right now. I’ve said this before, but social media is riddled with everyone’s highlight reels, so it makes posting things like this, where I look less than perfect, just a little bit scary. But I know that life doesn’t work like social media and we all don’t have that picture perfect life, so this is for those of you that can relate.
If I could describe how I’ve been feeling the last few weeks in one word it would be: lonely.
I feel like I need to explain a little. In my life I have a wonderful family that I am very thankful for. I have the best and most supportive friends a girl could ask for. Yet, I still feel lonely. It all started with that little devil on my shoulder named “Comparison” that kept reminding me of time and how when I look around at others I feel “behind.” It seems as though most have this ideal life and I felt like I had to “start over”. I hate to admit this, but there are just some gaps that friends and family can’t fill. And to be honest it’s not something I focused on much until lately. I was single for a long time before I met my ex-husband and I was fine for the most part. But I had a taste of how wonderful a relationship could be. And the dream of a lifelong teammate/friend/lover still isn’t dead for me. And yet…do I really feel ready for that type of relationship? I honestly don’t know. I feel like I could be with the right person. But it’s a scary thing.
So what happened when I started focusing more of my thoughts on feeling lonely? I became more lonely. I was recently reminded of this story that has stuck with me:
I was feeding the wrong wolf.
And I acknowledged it. And I prayed really really hard over it. And I’m making conscious efforts to stop myself from thinking about it so much.
Soooo what’s a girl to do when she’s feeling lonely? Go on a roadtrip alone to a destination alone!! Obviously.
I know. This kind of sounds ridiculous, but hear me out.
To make a longer story short I had taken off of work months prior for a trip. It didn’t pan out and my backup plan felt like a bust. I was left contemplating whether or not I should just stay home alone all weekend and just “catch up on life” aka either sit in my room and read or make myself so busy I forget that I had a vacation planned at all.
The first day I had off I cleaned and meal prepped. There’s nothing like coming home from a trip to a huge laundry list, so it felt good crossing all of that off. My second task that day was to decide where I was going. I spent hours online but nothing felt right to me. I ended up going to bed that night with no set plans and once again almost talked myself into just staying home and unintentionally feeding my bad mood.
3 am that night I jolted awake. My mind was racing. I finally sat up, turned on the light, and went online.
I am going somewhere. And I want to go alone. That’s all I knew. I was choosing to go alone and it made me feel empowered. It wasn’t something that I was stuck with. I wanted it. And I wanted even more to prove to myself that I would be okay.
I pulled up Airbnb and created a profile. One of the first places I pulled up was in Chicago, as there were 2 concerts I realized then that I really wanted to see. My indecisiveness left me. There it was. A quaint little apartment room right by Hyde Park. An apartment room to myself. And the best part? Because I waited the price had dropped from $170 to $45 per night.
I tried to go back to sleep before my trip, but it didn’t work well. I was excited again.
The next morning I made myself breakfast, packed, and did a little pampering before my trip.
It wasn’t until I started driving that I realized there was a way for me to make this trip alone without feeling completely alone.
I pulled over and took out my phone. I recorded myself talking about what I was doing and posted it to my Instagram story. Side Note: It took over three takes of this purely because of the fact that I couldn’t stop saying “Umm” if my life depended on it. I’m definitely new at this. (I’m going to post the videos at the end of this for those of you that asked to see.)
I put my phone back on GPS mode and kept driving. My phone went off. Then it went off again. And again. I wasn’t able to check it until I got to my destination, but when I did I was floored with so much love and encouragement. “I’m living for your Insta Story!” and “I’m proud of you!” and “You are so brave!” and so many “You are amazing!”s and “Keep sharing please.”
I can’t tell you how much that lifted me up. I felt like a new person and I didn’t even take the trip yet. It is honestly what pushed me, and for that I am so thankful. Yes, I was alone physically, but not in spirit. And my spirits were so high.
When I first entered the apartment complex I was greeted with this less than stellar elevator. I was slightly intimated:
But once I got all of my stuff up to my room I felt like I had already checked off the two most worrisome things for myself: 1.) I didn’t get lost on the drive (which I am notorious for) and 2.) I found free street parking walking distance from my crash pad.
Now back to the battle of the blinds.
I felt like I had everything under control until I couldn’t close those dang blinds. After minutes of trying and a close call to breaking them (there goes my Airbnb rating!) I threw in the towel. I gave in.
I went to bed slightly wishing I had someone stronger and craftier to get the blinds down for me.
I can now honestly say this next part:
Thank GOD I couldn’t close those blinds.
I awoke the next morning to the warm sun on my face, viewing a part of the Chicago skyline, all while still resting my head on my pillow. It was one of my favorite moments of the trip. For the first time in weeks I woke up with a smile.
Had I got what I thought I wanted I would’ve woken up in a dark room alone and maybe I would have dwelled on that.
Instead I was reminded of warmth and possibilities. I woke up and was immediately reminded to feed the right wolf.
I sat up and grabbed my pen and then lived out my very own Carrie Bradshaw weekend. I was girl in a big city writing, learning, and enjoying life.
I wrote about the blinds. And I carried my journal with me while I walked to breakfast down the road at a tiny Italian bakery that smelled like a slice of heaven. I remembered to keep my head up and blinds open. I listened to the two older ladies sitting behind me comparing notes on retired living. I heard another lady talk to the waitress about how she studied in Italy for short time all while I enjoyed a fluffy, yet dense, slice of quiche and a pipping hot cup of coffee. I waved back at the little 2 year old with a Superman sweatshirt on that walked up to me coyly while his mother was putting the jacket on her other son. I got a full minute of smiles before his mother grinned at me and then proceeded to usher him out of the door. I made the stern and intimidating looking Italian lady smile by getting back in line and ordering a coffee to go so I had a chance to compliment the food. I drove 40 minutes one way to see friends that make my heart happy and sing alongside them to our favorite musician. I left that party feeling so good that I took a chance and went to a concert downtown Chicago past midnight in the hopes I’d still get to see another favorite band of mine. Instead of drinking alcohol I took a shot of a 5 hour energy so I could stay awake that long. #lifeafter30 I took Uber alone. When the driver dropped me off and said, “Be safe,” I listened. I was aware. I got to the concert and didn’t feel alone because we were all there for the same reason. To dance and have fun. I actually ran into a familiar face, which was amazing. My face hurt from smiling. I drove home the next day feeling confident and capable.
The person I was 2 years ago would have never driven to Chicago alone to no particular destination while staying somewhere alone. Not to mention she wouldn’t even think of video recording herself and posting it on the Internet! OR go to a concert without plans of at least meeting someone there. And yet, I still did it. And just knowing that made me feel good. It made me feel like there are still a lot more steps that I can take to be the person that I’ve always wanted to be.
Out of all of the amazing things I experienced on my solo trip, the messages that I received about how it encouraged some of you is really what made me feel like it was all for a reason. Giving me a purpose in a time of struggle is more than I could ever had asked for, so truly thank you to those who said something to me. This post is just your friendly reminder that it’s okay to enjoy life solo sometimes. I hope you do the things that you feel called to do, despite the fears of being alone (which can be great). I’m almost certain that you will surprise yourself or learn something new in the process.
As always, thanks for following me as I stumble my way through life. It means more to me than you know. <3
Here’s some of the pictures and videos from my weekend, for those that didn’t see them: