Solitude is its own kind of reward. Ask any introvert. We live for it, need it, take breaths only for the promise of being reunited with ourselves away from the watchful gaze and strange cacophony of other humans and their activities.

It’s been a week since I left South East Asia and I have only just begun processing. So much happened over the last seven months, so many new places, foods, people, cultures, experiences.

And so I am basking in any amount of solitude I can find, even if it’s in those in-between moments – that hour between when my cousin goes to get my aunt from work and the time they get back, the three hours before bed when I lay awake and remember the month prior sitting in a park in Hanoi talking to a stranger who needed to practice his English, teaching a Chinese Malay woman in Hanoi how to row a kayak along Halong Bay.

I was an introvert before but this nomadic solitary journey has made me more so. Quiet evenings spent curled into bunk beds in hostel rooms, dinners for one at restaurants with seating made for two, dialogues crafted with voices all originating from the same consciousness.

I am here now, in the west. Everyone speaks my language, more people look like me, yet, somehow I am acutely alone. But it feels right, feels good. Solitude seems somehow the reward for this unconventional journey I’ve embarked on and I’ve never been more happy to claim a prize.