Five years ago, I took one of the boldest actions of my life. I traveled halfway across the world to Ubud, Indonesia alone. In June 2008, I was 27 years old and had never left United States soil despite a constant longing to. A combination of fear and comfort held me hostage in familiarity—until, however, I finished Elizabeth Gilbert’s bestselling novel, Eat. Pray. Love. It chronicled the author’s adventures through Italy, India and Indonesia as she sought to “find herself” after a divorce.
The book’s vivid descriptions of Indonesia’s rich culture and lush countryside converged with my imagination of ornate wood-carvings, colorful temples and sprawling rice paddies. It was this convergence that left no question about where my first trip abroad would be to once I mustered up enough courage to go. And whenever I decided to go, I wanted go alone—just like Elizabeth Gilbert.