I grew up with the idea that I had to be a good child, a successful student, a trusted member of my community. But ticking those boxes was not enough. I was under constant pressure to improve, to reinvent myself, to cope with the mutations, challenges, or threats of the jungle called life. I studied economics, then law, then psychology. I was trained, like many others in my generation, to become a highly rated human resource. Meanwhile, my inner resources, especially my creativity, pushed me in a different direction. The two paths were divergent, so the playwrights, poems and travel diaries that I wrote during this time remained hidden in my drawers.

Before the pandemic, I was constantly on the move. As a trainer or as a consultant, in the private or the public sector, working for small companies or large institutions, I changed jobs, homes, and countries, on average, every three or four years. I refused to be stopped by fatigue or illness, but not so much out of ambition as out of fear not to fall behind. Even when I settled down, I still spent more time abroad than at home. Solitude, initially a side-effect of this lifestyle, gradually became the rule.

I am a highly sensitive person. For a long time, I didn’t know how to describe my condition, until science found a name for it. To me, it’s been like a sort of invisible handicap that I was born with, and that I had to live with, pretending I didn’t have it. Only later in my life I started to realize that my vulnerability had advantages, too. No matter how much I read about a place or how many pictures I saw before getting there, my actual travel experience was always exciting, intense, fresh, and… different.

This is how I learned that traveling could be a way to turn my most daring dreams into reality—and to live unique moments that are perhaps worth sharing. For more than seven years, my adventures have taken me further away, on five continents, from the Arctic Circle to Tierra del Fuego and from the Tibetan Plateau to Easter Island, to nearly sixty countries. During this time, I worked hard to overcome my physical and emotional weaknesses, to free myself from fears and expectations, to make the most out of my solitude.

But life had more lessons in store for me. When I least expected, a near-death experience made me question my ambitions, and set me on a new path. In this context, writing became my best friend again, as a way to give back, through words, meaning and gratitude. This is how the project “Seven Years Traveling Alone” came into being.

Sadly, this moment coincides with a generalized crisis – one that threatens to plunge us all into an ocean of uncertainty. What will we choose – to give into fear or hopelessness, ignoring the voice of the soul, or to walk boldly into a reality of our own making – I still don’t know, but I hope this time we will all make a better choice. After my seven years of initiation, I am ready to try.

Akanisi Radu, April 2020