Very soon after starting my life in Thanh Hoa, I began to feel lonely, and this feeling has only grown deeper and harder as the time went on. I did make some friends, but just as Jung’s quote says, my loneliness wasn’t coming from lack of company, but rather from lack of deep connections and communication of the things that I wanted to explore and talk about. Whether I was sitting alone in my small hotel room, or sitting in a bar, drinking beers and chatting, surrounded by people, it didn’t matter – I felt lonely either way. I was devastated to find that solitude I once cherished had become a burden to me.
But then I also discovered the significant difference between solitude and loneliness, and finally I came to understand that my loneliness wasn’t even coming solely from the lack of quality connections with the people around me, but rather from the lack of a true connection to myself.
Many of us travel “to find ourselves”, and that certainly is one of my objectives as well. But I guess to find ourselves, we first need to lose ourselves, and that’s what happened to me in Thanh Hoa. The place has indeed changed me, and I didn’t like the person I was becoming. I met this new Nina that I’ve never met before. The one full of insecurities and neediness, and on a level that was not familiar to me. I spent so much time alone, trapped in my head, unable to even sleep properly at night, digging deeper and deeper into my mind and soul, into my subconscious. I discovered things there that were hiding from me for a long time, things I probably refused to face with earlier in life when I was preoccupied with my studies, numerous hobbies and a lively social life. I felt tortured by all those discoveries and the whole situation was seriously chipping away on my confidence. This time, solitude hit me in an unexpected way and I didn’t enjoy it anymore. The cloudy gray weather of northern Vietnamese winter was not helping either. I found it hard to get up in the morning since I had literally nothing happening in my life if I wasn’t working. I even lost all my motivation to write or play my guitar.
I looked at myself and I didn’t like myself, I didn’t know this person. I didn’t want to be her and I didn’t want to accept her as a part of myself. I lost some weight and I liked the way I looked, but I didn’t like the person that was hiding inside, this insecure, sad, lost little girl who felt disconnected from everything and everyone around her. And most of all, disconnected from herself. From myself. Eventually I started taking yoga classes hoping that it would help, and it did help a little, but only for a while. It simply seemed like I had to put huge amounts of energy into just staying afloat and keeping it together from day to day. I was angry, I was disappointed. I was supposed to be living this amazing life in an exotic country, I was supposed to be having the time of my life, and yet there I was, just feeling miserable most of the time. I felt like a failure, and I had never really failed at anything in my life before. I just didn’t know how to deal with that.
Even though now I am finally free of this place and I am starting to travel again, I know that I will nevertheless carry my loneliness with me. It will not just disappear because I can change my surroundings – my loneliness is a part of me, not something that comes from the external world. And the only way I can change that is to reconnect with myself, to rediscover who I am and what keeps my fire and my passion for life burning. I miss myself now, and I don’t want to feel that way. I don’t ever want to be away from myself again. And so I must find a way to always be with myself, no matter how and what I have to do in order to achieve that.