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Rebecca Gallo is trying to put into practice the lessons she learned while walking The Camino. Follow along as she continues her spiritual journey — whatever that might mean.

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July 24th, 2013

All By Myself

 
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A Camino pilgrim rests in Burgos, Spain. (CNS photo/Felix Ordonez, Reuters)

A Camino pilgrim rests in Burgos, Spain. (CNS photo/Felix Ordonez, Reuters)

“Did you go with anyone?” she asked. I was at a Camino talk hosted by our local chapter of American Pilgrims on the Camino. Future pilgrims come not just to hear the presentation, but to ask their questions to those of us that have been there.

“No, I went alone,” I told her.

“Really? You went to Spain to walk 500 miles all by yourself?”

Yes, indeed I did. From the moment I decided I would walk the Camino I knew I’d do it alone. Some people considered joining me, and if it was meant to be it would have worked out that way, but it didn’t. I tell most people I highly recommend doing your first Camino all by yourself. Here’s why:

It used to confuse me as to why the concept of doing things alone was so foreign and scary to some people. And then I read Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. To an introvert like me, the idea of doing things alone is not just acceptable, it’s actually appealing and many times preferred.

For those of you that equate the word “introvert” with the word “hermit,” you might want to pick up Susan’s book for a little more insight. One major difference is where we get our energy. Introverts are recharged after spending time alone; extroverts renew themselves by being with others. Not all introverts are shy. I have no problem starting up a conversation with strangers in coffee shops, art galleries, on trains, on planes. That makes sense because we introverts prefer deep conversations with one or two people as opposed to a large gathering.

I went to the Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands this weekend. Upon hearing I was going, a friend asked if I would like company. “No,” I said. “I prefer doing art-type things alone.” When someone else is with me, I can’t stop and talk to an artist for an hour, nor sit and write for 10 minutes when feeling inspired, nor stare at a mesmerizing work without interruption for a solid three minutes or longer. A friend might want to see the whole show, whereas I left before seeing everything — eventually wanting to escape all the people and roam the quiet aisles of the used book sale at the library down the street.

So don’t be offended if a friend tells you they’d prefer to spend the night reading a book instead of joining you at that concert. Don’t be surprised by the friend who comes to the party, but ducks out early without saying goodbye. And if I’m describing you? Don’t be afraid to go out on the Camino alone. For us introverts, it’s a little slice of heaven.

 
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The Author : Rebecca Gallo
In the spring of 2012, Rebecca Gallo spent six weeks walking the Camino to Santiago. Rebecca writes about putting into practice the lessons she learned on that journey. She's continuing her spiritual journey -- looking for deeper meaning, asking questions of all she's believed before, and finding answers in the people she meets and the experiences she has along the way.
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Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
  • LW37

    Hi Rebecca, Lisa here from the Monday night writing group at the Battery Park Book Exchange & Champagne Bar. I found your blog recently and have enjoyed reading it; it’s inspiring me to possibly start my own. I relate to your thoughts on being an introvert. One of the things I love most is watching films on the big screen but I’ve always preferred going alone. I think it’s because I’m not being interrupted by a companion (whether it’s by the crinkling of their popcorn bag or their need to share a comment on the film.) And afterwards I can just sit there, still absorbing and experiencing the film I just saw instead of jumping into a discussion right away of what we both thought about it!

  • Carol Berg

    Hi, Rebecca,

    You describe me to a T…except that I am an extrovert who enjoys doing things alone as well. I used to go on vacations alone because I could stop and go as I pleased. What a joy…and what super people I met along the way. Thanks for writing.

    Carol

    • Rebecca

      You’re welcome Carol. Thanks for your comment – I love hearing from readers.

      I completely agree — I meet a lot more people when I travel alone. It is quite a joy.

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