This is not a piece about how foreign women will be docile and treat you like a king, sorry bruh. This is about preservation of self. This is about saving your sanity. This is about living. You need to leave the United States for a couple of days (or weeks, or years), and you need to do it alone.
Let’s be honest, there are often times where you feel like a foreigner in your own home. No matter how accomplished you’ve become, your own country still looks at you like an anomaly, a glitch, an insult to the system designed to defeat me and you, your momma and your cousin too. As black men, we are constantly subjected to the idea of who we are, instead of our truths.
As lucky as I’ve been to travel the world pretty frequently, many would be surprised to learn my first international solo trip was this year. I’ve flown solo to destinations and met up with friends in different cities, but a trip where I was my only ally in another country hadn’t happened just yet. Now that I’ve done it, I’m pissed I didn’t take a solo journey earlier. I didn’t know how badly I needed to be away. I didn’t know how much I would gain from going alone. I didn’t know until I came back. I needed a break from America.
The last few years have been a unique kind of purgatory for me as a black man, and I’m sure this is the truth for countless other black and brown men existing in America. Daily we are force fed examples of ourselves being taunted, harassed, and murdered, to the point where we too, experience a death of sorts. You slowly spiral downward, finding yourself in this twisted waiting room, counting the days until you become the hashtag. Every week you learn of a new way to die (playing your music loud, doing your job, asking for help when your car has stalled on the road, or reading a book in your car) with no new details on how to live. This dark space we’re in right now, isn’t living. This isn’t supposed to be your black existence.
By this point, they’ve won. They’ve made you believe that this black hole of despair belongs to you. You’ve got to save yourself. It is because of this, that your next (or even your first) trip out of the country needs to be a solo trip. You, my friend, need a break. You need a moment away to recharge, reflect, and realign. You need to call out sick from America.
“And they say by 21 I was supposed to die, so I’m out here celebrating my post-demise.” — Jay Z
Here’s some reasons why you’re in need of a solo trip abroad.
Few things test your confidence like being in a place where you barely speak the language, have limited access to the internet, and no one to rely upon but yourself. Traveling alone forces you to tap into these abilities and actually use skills you rarely get to flex when at home, such as being a social being and talking to strangers, accepting the challenge of critical thinking and problem solving to get where you want to go.
More importantly, it gives you the chance to be a carefree black man. Do things you wouldn’t think of doing with your crew around because your boys might look at you funny. The only person you have to worry about making a fool of yourself in front of, is people you’re likely to never see again, and if you do, they’ll know you as that ridiculously confident guy who didn’t care about what others thought. These are the kind of moments you need to realize that being you is the most lit thing you can do, a direct hit to the notion that being you is reason enough for death.
There’s also the opportunities for these really dope moments of clarity that you just can’t get while being surrounded by your normal atmosphere. Some of my best moments of reflection and healing (because yes, we as black men need space to heal from the litany of attacks upon our being) came from being away from all of the static of my day-to-day. You’d be surprised by how clear the mind becomes when it’s away from home.
“When I discover who I am, I’ll be free.” — Ralph Ellison
Bruh, just go. Stop waiting on your frat brothers to find the time off, stop waiting on someone to say your dream trip to Antartica is a dope idea, stop waiting for others to validate your decision to go somewhere. Just go. I’ve missed out on really great trips waiting for others to come to their senses. I decided that “they,” whoever “they” may be, won’t prevent me from seeing the world. If I want to see the pyramids, I’m going, with or without you. Be your own man and see the world.
Break barriers for others by going it alone. Someone’s solo trip is waiting on yours to inspire them. So do it.
The other great part to a solo trip is creating a part of your life that is closed off to your friends, family, and colleagues. We as black men often keep the things to ourselves that we need to share most; our pain, our cries for help. Very rarely do we get to make and maintain positive moments that are ours, and ours only. That’s exactly what these kinds of trips are for.
“Men can starve from a lack of self-realization as much as they can from a lack of bread.” – Richard Wright
“You have the right to every end of your exploration and no motherfucker anywhere can tell you otherwise . . .” — Ta-Nehisi Coates
“All we wanna do is be free.” — J. Cole
“Now watch that black boy fly.” — Kendrick Lamar