I’d known for 6 months that in the new year Nick would have to leave me. I was thrilled that he had the opportunity to go back home for his best friends wedding – a big milestone in their long friendship – and be a part of such a memorable occasion. But selfishly, i was also filled with anxiety. Anxiety about where I would be, what I would be doing and mostly if I could handle being on my own in Africa for the first time. I know…….selfish.

Thinking back to my time alone in South America, where after 3 months of travelling together, I was suddenly on my own for a daunting 2 months, is a thought that haunts me. I spent a whole week crying. A non-english speaking waiter watched me cry over the menu and became convinced that I was a poorly prepared foreigner who was so distraught about ordering food in Spanish. Yes, I couldn’t speak Spanish fluently but I could still order pollo con arroz, por favour.

Although I was ok to be in that sunny little city of Bolivia on my own, missing Nick stopped me from truly embracing my independence in a foreign country. I got by, but everyday I missed Nick, and that stopped me from being me and instead made me a girlfriend of a boy she missed too much. Once I stopped crying, I started eating. Everything.

So my two concerns with Nick leaving me was 1. How bad of a wreck would I be this time? 2. Would I get fat?

Without any thought to where I might end up when Nick flies off, we continued our travels and along the way very kind people offered to look after me on my weeks alone. However, we decided to wing it, and on Christmas Eve Eve 2011 we arrived at Mayoka Village beach lodge in Nkhata Bay – the north of Malawi. Within a day I felt the heart and soul of the place – from the beautiful staff, friendly owners and the clear water of Lake Malawi. As fate would have it one of the bar men would be on leave throughout all of January – coinciding perfectly with Nicks trip to Oz – and I would be working again for the first time in almost 2 years. I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited to start a new job!

On the first day of 2012, Nick had to begin his 4 day journey home. A boat ride to town, private taxi to Mzuzu, local bus to Lilongwe, flight from Lilongwe to Johannesburg then finally the flight from Johannesburg direct to Sydney.

His long exhausting journey somehow made me feel better that I would not have to endure the same pain.

In my first week without Nick, I became so paranoid that I would fall into a state of depression that I never allowed myself to be doing nothing. I went on runs, swam 1km across the lake, wrote in my journal, started reading a 400 page book and worked the evening shift from 4pm-1am, 5 days a week.

On my day off, when I finally stopped to catch a breath I got sick. I had clearly been doing too much and exhausted my body physically and mentally.

Once I forced myself to just do nothing – it hit me. I didn’t miss Nick painfully like I had in the past. There wasn’t this aching desire and need to have him here. I was missing him in a healthy way.

That’s when I realised how much I had grown in Africa. I always knew I would change somehow, that something innately profound would happen to me on this special continent, and because I was so aware and excited for that change i questioned and doubted myself constantly. Nick and I were with each other for every hour of every day on this trip and when you are with another human being you lose sight of yourself and your capabilities. Its hard to be an “I” when you are always an “US”.

And when your other half is a fantastic human being, its even more difficult to identify with yourself, and realise that maybe you are a fantastic human being in a totally different way.

This time alone I am appreciating myself and who I am and what I can do. So instead of focusing on my time away from Nick, I’m focusing on the time I have for myself and how happy I make me.

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