The time came for me to celebrate yet another turn around the sun. This was not my first birthday in Sweden, well in a way it was. See, I left home in August, and my birthday is in January but during my first year in Sweden, I thought, why not go somewhere and celebrate my birthday there. So I packed up my bags and grabbed my partner and we headed to the airport. Merely two hours later, we were in beautiful Vienna, Austria. So in essence, this year was the first time I celebrated my birthday on Swedish soil. But enough of trying to figure out the meaning of it all, let me get right to what I want to talk about.
This year I decided to celebrate my birthday alone. I love people, love being around people, interacting and finding out about them, who they are and what makes them vibe and all. I thrive in people settings where you meet new people, converse etc. I guess that’s why making friends in Sweden has not been too taxing for me. I’ll call it a gift. Without being a pest, I just hang around until you decide I am super awesome and you just have to be my friend. Nothing awkward though, so don’t stress.
So, back to the story (I don’t know why I keep getting sidetracked). I decided to have some “alone time” this year for my birthday and got on a bus and headed to a nature reserve I have always wanted to go to. Hjälstaviken Nature Reserve, located only an hour away by bus from Uppsala, is a dream. It has a large marsh with reeds, a lake great for bird watching in the warmer months and hiking trails that are both challenging and rewarding. The forest areas provide a nice serene escape from the rush of the wind in the reeds or from the busy road. It is like stepping into a different world, but so is almost every nature park in Sweden. I have a monthly bus card, so I used that as my ticket. Going during the week was a bonus, there was almost nobody there, and I made sure I enjoyed my alone time. I didn’t walk the whole route, I wasn’t about that life! I chose 2 tracks, one led to an observation deck the other led to an open area where I sat for a quiet picnic. I had bought my food before I got on the bus to leave of course, but I have been made aware that during the summer months, when the place is always packed, there is an area with a kiosk and all.
Here’s a few takeaways from my time in the wilderness alone
- Time in nature is always rewarding. There has never been a time when I’ve taken time off from a rather hectic Masters schedule and regretted it. I am always glad I went out and just breathed.
- Being alone is not and should not be scary for more extroverted people. I tend to shy away from areas where I find myself without people around me because I am an overthinker and tend to go off on a tangent, so I am happiest when I am distracted by other people or doing something. The heavy breathing from the hike made sure my focus was on the present and cleared my head of any worry or stress
- Most areas and parks are easily accessible by public transport. After I got off the bus I walked a little bit to get to the nature reserve (about 20 minutes). Other parks have stops closer, whilst others are quite further away. Don’t forget to include that.
- Some areas are very isolated so you need to always be careful in case of an emergency. Keep a fully charged working mobile, a bottle of water and a snack. Swedish Nature reserves are popular and Swedes love the outdoors so most of the time you are guaranteed to see someone.
So remember that being alone is not always a bad thing. Sometimes it is a perfect time to rediscover who you are, your purpose and where you are heading.