When I reached the nude beach on the far side of Lokrum island, I was nothing short of alarmed. There were a range of things that I could not unsee. Some men were standing tall, facing the sea. Most were older. All were naked. There were a few women sprinkled in for good measure.
To make matters more awkward, the nudist part of the island was formed by massive boulders. If you were not careful, you could very well fall to your death. It was not the way I wanted to go. Eventually, I switched out of my platform flip-flops and donned water shoes with more grip.
One man asked if I needed help as I slowly searched for the perfect spot and I learned the first unspoken rule of nude beaches – do not strike up a conversation. Period. I focused on maintaining eye contact as he asked if I had a lighter.
After a good half-hour of acclimating to the new sights and stumbling my way around the cliffs, I finally found a spot down by the water to park myself. It was almost entirely hidden from the rest of the beach and had a ladder going down into the water.
As I integrated into the community and lathered up with 70 SPF sunscreen, I focused on being one with nature and accepting everything about myself.
I sat in the sun for an hour and looked at the beauty that surrounded me. The Adriatic Sea seemed to sparkle and the waves flowed away with all of my stress. It was me and the sea and I simply existed with it until I was at peace.
I thought about the tumultuous past few months. I had survived a time of significant depression, stepping away from two important jobs, and the breakdown of my romantic relationship. Through it all, I remained. I recognized that I am not a perfect person, but I am still worthy of a good life of love and happiness. During the hours at the beach, I accepted all of me and loved it, inside and out.
Once I felt like I reached the level of enlightenment that I was seeking from the day, I went into the cold Adriatic Sea. I suddenly realized that I was in a massive body of water and started worrying about the unknown creatures in it. I quickly grabbed my snorkel and mask so I could see everything.
After a while, I laughed to myself about the guy on my very far left who was in a wet suit. I maintain to this day that not many things are as amazing as snorkeling in your birthday suit.
As my day on Lokrum Island drew to a close, I decided to strike a power pose by standing with my hands on my hips facing the sea. The old men were on to something. I felt powerful and stood there until I was completely comfortable with all parts of my body.
I felt the way I should have been feeling all along. Something clicked in me that had largely been missing since Greece and Israel. I was back.
Alas, this is my adventure, so something had to go disastrously wrong. The tour boats turned the corner of the island as I stood in my water shoes, wide-brimmed hat, and sun glasses. I could practically hear the clicks of the cameras. At least I was feeling great by that time.
Despite the weird twist, I left feeling completely empowered. I took the ferry back to Dubrovnik and searched the jewelry shops to find something to commemorate the day. Eventually, a handsome Albanian man sold me a necklace that will forever remind me of the color of the sea that day. I wear it when I need to remind myself to love and accept myself the way I did that day.
While nude beaches are not for everyone, feeling great about yourself is. We can get caught up in responsibilities, caring for others, and a multitude of things that distract us from that point.
This week, try to dedicate an hour to self-care. Get a massage, journal, or do whatever works for you to get centered. The holidays are here and all of the stresses that come with them. Do something good for yourself. It will be beneficial for you and others.
Thanks for reading, everyone! I could not resist posting this story.