The title is a little daunting. It’s never easy to step out of your comfort zone or overcome loneliness but being lonely can really take a toll on your emotional, mental, and sometimes even physical health!
As an extrovert, I thought traveling would be a piece of cake. I accepted my first assignment thinking it would be great and everyone would be nice and helpful, however, I was wrong. 12 hours into my contract, I was canceled. I was sad and defeated, with it being my first contract, I thought, “This is it, I’m going to be staff forever.”
I wallowed in self pity for about 3 days before switching agencies and getting a new contract. During this time, I was at an all time low. With the last bit of courage I had left, I went to my next contract in Boston, MA and prayed that it was the right decision. After being there for a week, I started to get my groove back. Thankfully, there were other travelers on my floor that I connected with right away....
The staff was also very friendly, giving me pointers on things to do in the city. It wasn’t the easiest transition but once I started making plans with other travelers and staff, I eventually started to feel less alone.
It’s scary to do all that. It’s scary to pick up your life and move across the country and start over. Originally, I thought I was going to be alone, but I was wrong. The travel community is one of the best communities I know. They’re welcoming, they’re friendly, and they are usually willing to help if you need it. You don’t need to do it alone if you don’t want to.
One way to step out of your comfort zone and avoid loneliness is to ask your recruiter to look for an assignment in a city with a big travel professional presence. They might have some good suggestions for your first assignment so you aren’t stuck in a city with no other travelers. Look in a popular city like Seattle, Los Angeles, Florida, etc. Also, do some homework on the city that is being offered to you, you have up to 48 hours to accept a contract (despite what your recruiter might say). A pro tip is to look into a Travel Health Professionals Facebook Group and ask about the hospital and city being offered before accepting a new contract. Always ask questions, but also make sure to fact check the information being provided to you.
So what happens if you accept a contract and you don’t meet travelers in orientation or on your unit?
It’s pretty easy for me to preach these as good options since I’m a total extrovert, but if you’re not like me you can still step out of your comfort zone and overcome loneliness if you try these steps. Just do them slowly. Baby steps are ok! You don’t need to do all five of these suggestions all at once. Try one and if it doesn’t work or doesn’t feel comfortable, then try option 2 and so on. Do whatever makes you happy but know you don’t have to be alone if you don’t want to be.
My first travel year was one of the hardest years of my life. There was a lot of loss and a lot of days that I just needed to stay in my room and sleep the day away because that was the only way I knew how to make myself whole again. It is ok to go through bad assignments or bad periods of life that feel very lonely but the travel community will pick you up if you want them too and I am here to tell you that as a success story.
Written by Jessica Schaffer, Travel CST and MedVenturist