make a map of it

Lately, I’ve been trying to decide whether or not I would write about being lonely. Mostly because being lonely and then writing about said loneliness left me feeling a bit more forlorn than I care to admit.

That, and I kept telling myself: Nikki, don’t air your somewhat pathetic (in an endearing way, I think) personal problems on a public forum.

Don’t let the fact that I have evidently already started talking to myself be a cause for concern.

But than I started talking to my fellow fellows (hahaha) who are scattered across Africa and Asia, some alone, some partnered with others, some in constant turmoil as they are evacuated from unsafe conditions, and if there is one concept that is universal among our conversations, it is loneliness.

(Savannah, an incredible fellow and wonderful friend, wrote this post, which I believe sums it up quite nicely: the bond that fellows share)

Loneliness in a new place though, isn’t like loneliness at home, wherever one considers their home to be. Loneliness in a new place is amplified by the unfamiliar, by the absence of comforts, by culture shock and its tumultuous, ever changing ramifications. Personally, loneliness in Kampala was incomparable to being alone in Canada. And there is a rather large difference between the two, between loneliness and being alone, regardless of geographical location.

Maybe because it’s so easy to flux in reactions and emotions to a place where every single experience can either knock you off your feet or take your breath away, or occasionally, both.

The highs can be phenomenal, they can solidify your reasons for traveling and be catalysts for momentous self-reflection, but the lows can be correspondingly powerful, they can isolate you despite any company you may hold and trigger waves of doubt and insecurity.

My reaction to a handful of, if I’m being honest, rough couple of days, was one of someone who was in some sort of battle. I did not want this loneliness. It was not invited on my adventure. It could kindly find the exit, and leave permanently, thank you very much. That, added to the fact that I had, with all the confidence in the world, been quite happy to leave behind a place where I was rarely alone, never mind lonely. (Some may recall a somewhat pompous PEACE OUT CANADA, I’M MOVING TO UGANDA attitude).

I’m not so sure the whole battle mentality was an accurate one to adopt, though, because learning about loneliness, revelling in it, could be an incredible opportunity for growth. So I will stop apologizing for being lonely, equating it with an error or a malfunction on my otherwise opportune experience, and will instead try to learn from it.

“When I get lonely these days, I think: So BE lonely. Learn your way around loneliness. Make a map of it. Sit with it, for once in your life. Welcome to the human experience.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

(I will ignore the idea that my fond response to this mapping it out may be explained by the inherent absence of any sort of map or guiding document in Kampala)


3 Comments on “make a map of it

  1. I’m so glad I found this blog, and in particular this post. I am about to embark on a similar experience myself and this is something I have thought a lot about. Thankyou so much for your honesty. I totally agree that accepting it, sitting with it, is probably the only way to move through it – just like any negative emotion, battling with it or suppressing it will only make it stronger in the long run. But its all certainly much easier said than done!


    • Thank you for your kind words! I can definitely say since writing this post that my perseverance and my dedication to being here has only gotten stronger. The first few weeks are the toughest, but in my opinion, they make the rest of the experience all the more valuable. If you’re not feeling pain, you’re not growing, right? Best of luck on your journey! I look forward to following your adventure as well!


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