Why I Visited The Holy Land... By Myself
Earlier this year I was invited by my friend Haysam to go visit his hometown of Cairo Egypt. This was at the very top of my bucket list and was an easy yes. I realized if I was going to go all the way to the Middle East then I 100% had to visit the other place on the top of my list, Israel. No way was I going to pass up an opportunity to go and walk where Jesus walked and to see the sites I’d only read about in the bible.
The problem was, while he grew up in Egypt, his father was Palestinian so he wasn’t going to be allowed to enter Israel with me. I quickly realized I would need to go to Israel alone and meet up with Haysam afterwards in Egypt. This was a pivotal moment for me in my life because I realized how far I’d come and how comfortable I was booking half my trip by myself in a totally foreign part of the world. I was proud of my ability to be alone because this was not always the case.
I truly believe that one of the most important things we can achieve in this life is the ability to be as happy by ourselves as we are surrounded by loved ones. One of my favorite quotes is, “If we can learn to fall in love with yourself, you will spend every day for the rest of your life with somebody that you love.”
In my 20’s and early 30’s I struggled so badly to be by myself. I lived with 5 roommates, all as social as I was. Every single night I needed to be out with friends or on a date. If I found myself home at night and nobody was around I would leave and go to the grocery store or sometimes go back to the gym, even if I had just come from there. I wanted to be anywhere that I could be surrounded by others, where I wouldn’t be alone.
Eventually I met a life coach named Woody Woodward and he taught me so many valuable lessons about myself. The most important was this ability to truly be happy internally and with myself. In order to do this I needed to face some things and I knew I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to be alone where I had to look at my whole self and decide if I liked what I saw. I knew I liked what I saw when I didn’t have to think too hard about it. I had a fun and very successful life, why worry? But Woody was very smart and he knew I needed to quit doing things for the approval and praise of the outside world and to truly learn what made me happy solely for me.
To help me break my bad habits we set up a plan and I literally had to go take myself on dates by myself. Going to movie theaters by myself. Go eat at nice restaurants by myself. And ultimately start taking a few vacations by myself. I’ll never forget how uncomfortable that first theatre was when I had to go to the booth and ask for one ticket. I’ll never forget sitting in the theatre wondering if everyone in there thought I was a total loser and a failure cause I was alone. The first movie I took myself to alone was about tanks and had Brad Pitt in it, that’s about all I can remember!
But a crazy thing happened. I started to meditate in silence. I started to leave my phone in the car and just sit with my own thoughts. And I started to learn to just be ok there with myself. Over the next several years I did the work to learn to be ok with myself, then to be happy with myself, and ultimately I learned to fall in love with myself. It’s a very freeing feeling when you quit trying to be in a relationship simply cause you need a warm body there next to you to validate your self-worth. When I no longer needed any of my friends to witness it to know that what I was doing mattered. To truly be free from the validation of a source outside of myself.
In the past few years I have traveled to many countries by myself. I went to Ha Long Bay in Vietnam and Machu Picchu in Peru. And just a few months ago I visited Israel and Petra Jordan all by myself. Don’t get me wrong, I still like being with my friends. On all 3 trips I ultimately met up with friends in other countries as part of my adventures. But I can honestly say that I enjoyed the time alone as much as I did with all my friends.
Recently I’ve watched as a few people close to me have struggled to free themselves from a toxic relationship. I think we have all done this at times and we all know that when we do this, it’s not because we really WANT to be with that person, we just don’t want to be alone. I can empathize with them because that was me for so long.
Ultimately it comes down to this, do you want to decide who you will spend the rest of your life with when you are coming from a place of fear and scarcity or do you want to come from a place of strength and certainty? Doing this work was the most important of my life. I’ve lived by myself the past 3 years and it’s allowed me so much time to think and grow and make blog posts like this one. I no longer need to spend hours per night talking with roommates to try and achieve some connection. I am no longer anxious and needy of the approval of my circle of friends.
Israel was my favorite of all the places I’ve been able to go to by myself. I spent a few days in the Holy Land. I spent some time in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. I was able to tap into the energy of that place and just sit in it. Not needing to worry about anyone else or to make sure they were having a good time, I was just there, in my thoughts and pondering about Christ. Ironically, when he died on the cross he had to do it by myself, cutting himself off from his friends and even the divine power of his Father. I know a lot of people look to him in their own moments of loneliness. The irony of all this was not lost on me.
So this Easter as I remember the resurrection and the life of Christ, I also remember that because of him we are never alone. He has given all of us the ability to truly love ourselves if we will take the time to do it. When we are taking care of ourselves and we love ourselves I know we show up full of so much love for others. This is the reason this was so important to me and why Woody will always have a special place in my heart.
“Have you ever loved somebody so much you would do anything for them? Well make that somebody yourself and do whatever the hell you want!” – Harvey Specter