I’m often asked about all my travelling and it’s clear that people have a bit of a misconception about it. They just assume that it is all wonderful and that I get lots of time for sightseeing, that it is very glamorous (and that I cruise from one party to the next), or that Cilliers travels with me.
None of these assumptions are true. Travelling for work is very different from travelling for fun. I do it all by myself because it is part of my job (when I was younger one of my parents or a family friend would sometimes travel with me, but not anymore). When it comes to sightseeing, I try my best to see the city that I visit at that particular time. But more often than not my schedule just doesn’t allow it. I often race from the airport straight to the studio, or from the studio straight to the airport to travel to the next job. The industry is not always that glamorous either. Sure, it is fun when a client books you into a fancy five-star hotel, or you shoot in a cool location with beautiful surroundings. But again: it’s different because I am doing, and experiencing, it alone.
Which brings me to the topic I actually want to write about today: travelling and loneliness.
It’s rather difficult to cultivate meaningful friendships in the fashion/modelling industry. Everyone is constantly travelling and it is impossible to plan more than a week ahead since everyone’s schedule changes so quickly. And in my case, it is particularly difficult because I am still based in Cape Town (whereas if I lived in New York, I would’ve had more time to spend with friends who live there too). Add to that the language (and culture) barrier that is almost always present, and you can see why good friendships are hard to come by.
One of the biggest life lessons I’ve learnt in the past five years is that when it comes to friends it is quality over quantity. Having your family and the right friends as a support system is vital. You need people around you who will help you grow into the person you want to be, people who are aligned with who you are and what you stand for, and who supports your dreams and goals.
You shouldn’t surround yourself with people just because you don’t want to be alone. Being alone is sometimes very important. Everyone needs some quality “me-time” to drown out the noise and to become quiet. And that is one thing travelling on my own has offered me. It also forces me to do things on my own, which makes me feel empowered and confident.
But sure, I do get lonely. I often find myself walking the streets of New York, or staying in an amazing resort in the French Alps wishing I could share those incredible moments with someone. Life is just so much sweeter when it is experienced with someone (shout out to my best friend and life partner: the husband, Cilliers).
I mentioned before that doing things on my own boosts my self-esteem. Racing between four cities and four different jobs all in less than a week’s time (all by myself), kind of makes me feel like a badass. But I don’t always want to do things on my own, to be quite honest. For example, when my luggage gets lost or the driver is not there to pick me up from the airport, I wish I had someone with me to fight my battles for me. Or someone who will at least hold my hand.
There will always be moments in life when you have to tackle things alone, without anyone by your side. It is in those moments when you feel alone, fragile, stressed, and maybe even vulnerable, that you discover your own strength. Because we are all stronger than we think. And somehow we get through those tough times and we can look back with a smile, pat ourselves on the back for making it through, and walk away with life experience.
Here’s the thing: you can only grow outside of your comfort zone. So, don’t be afraid to be alone! Being alone doesn’t mean you are lonely. But when you do get lonely, you will always have your friends and family to lean on.
Love and light,