Go­ing it alone

Take time out to find yourself again and en­joy be­ing you.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Living - Star2@thes­tar.com.my Go­ing for a trip alone could help you re­visit yourself. — AFP

GO get a life! No, I mean, se­ri­ously.

No­body said women have to give up what they en­joy af­ter mar­riage, but it’s one of those things that just hap­pens as women un­con­sciously “sac­ri­fice them­selves”. And in do­ing so, lose track of who they are, what’s im­por­tant to them and what makes them happy.

Some women, es­pe­cially those who are moth­ers, have got­ten so used to their roles as care­givers, that they no longer re­mem­ber what it is they do to have fun.

Go­ing shop­ping with the fam­ily or other fam­ily out­ings doesn’t count.

I mean spend­ing time with like-minded adults, hav­ing din­ner con­ver­sa­tion with girl­friends, watch­ing a movie, or even just curl­ing up with a good book.

Be­sides tak­ing care of chil­dren, some have the added re­spon­si­bil­ity of car­ing for their par­ents as well, so re­ally, who can af­ford the time to take off?

And even then, hol­i­days can be quite stress­ful. A friend told me how she re­cently went on a hol­i­day over­seas with her fam­ily, and that she felt she needed a hol­i­day af­ter her hol­i­day.

That’s be­cause even on hol­i­day, we’re still “work­ing” as we’re mak­ing sure every­one is on time, never goes hun­gry and al­ways well pro­vided for. It’s a feel­ing I can well iden­tify with.

You’re think­ing, all my kids are teenagers by now so things should be so much eas­ier, right?

You have no idea.

Last year dur­ing a beach hol­i­day at Krabi, Thai­land, my other half gave me a heart at­tack mid-way as he didn’t bring enough Thai baht. Most places didn’t ac­cept credit cards and money-chang­ers wouldn’t change our US dol­lars as they claimed they were old notes. Thank God we found one that even­tu­ally did.

Num­ber two son got lost while ex­plor­ing on another is­land. I was los­ing my mind think­ing he could be swept out to sea or bro­ken his leg while climb­ing. He showed up an hour later just as the life­guards were about to look for him.

On the way back, the boys felt it was too early to go into the air­port’s wait­ing lounge, so we hung out at the cof­fee­house out­side in­stead. By the time we went in, the queue had built up, and I was seized with panic as they were al­ready call­ing for pas­sen­gers and get­ting ready to close the gate.

Not to men­tion the daily stress of get­ting every­one out, on time, ev­ery day, for meals, for daily tours, or what-have-you, and the wait­ing around for some­body or other. My fam­ily hol­i­days are of­ten jam-packed with ac­tiv­i­ties, be it vis­it­ing mu­se­ums, mar­kets, water­falls or hip­ster cafes – which I also en­joy – but it’s tir­ing.

So yes, fam­ily hol­i­days are fun for every­one, ex­cept mum doesn’t get to be on “of­f­work mode”.

Well, here’s a rad­i­cal sug­ges­tion to break the mould – go trav­el­ling by yourself. Not that I’m ad­vo­cat­ing an “eat, pray, love jour­ney”, but tak­ing a good break could help you re­visit yourself be­fore one be­comes to­tally in­vis­i­ble.

“No way! I can’t, my kids need me.” “My hus­band can’t man­age on his own.” “He doesn’t think it’s safe for me to go alone.” “The house will be in ru­ins!” That was my friend’s re­sponse, and prob­a­bly many out there feel the same way too.

Nor­mally, when I do travel on my own, it’s al­ways for work. To make a con­scious choice to go on a hol­i­day alone, on the other hand, is quite dif­fer­ent when you know you don’t have any­one to fall back on.

I did ex­actly just that last year, and it was one of the best breaks I’ve had in a long time.

Of course, it de­pends on the des­ti­na­tion, but most places these days are eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble and given how dig­i­tally con­nected we are, safe enough to get around on our own. And if you get lost or need ad­vice on where to eat or what to do, all you have to do is ask.

I know some girl­friends who ac­tu­ally pre­fer to travel by them­selves. For some­one who has never done so though, it can be an in­tim­i­dat­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, but it’s so worth the ad­ven­ture. I made new friends, did stuff at my own pace and re­claimed my own space.

If trav­el­ling abroad is too big a step for­ward, then start with baby steps – have a “stay­ca­tion” in a lo­cal ho­tel, go for a short yoga re­treat or pam­per yourself with a day at the spa.

There’s a lot to be said about en­joy­ing one’s own com­pany and learn­ing to get used to do­ing what you want again, in­stead of what every­one else wants.

Sure, it may not be the right an­ti­dote for every­one, but as things spin faster and cra­zier in this dig­i­tal age, I feel the need to step away from it all, stronger than ever, in or­der to re­gain my san­ity and hear my own thoughts.

Patsy feels be­ing self­ish is not al­ways a bad thing, as some­times you need to be self­ish with your time. Share your thoughts with star2@thes­tar.com.my.

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