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I’ve historically been the type who would rather miss out on something altogether than show up by myself.
Anyone out there feel me? I always felt I needed someone there to depend on, to have the experience with, and I especially needed someone there to ensure I didn’t look lonely to other people. God forbid. This was especially true of situations where people are typically participating together, like going to the movies, concerts, or eating in restaurants.
But as I’ve gotten older, having someone else around whenever I want to do something has become an Olympic-sport-level challenge. Take two people, in their mid-twenties to thirties, have them identify a night they are free and something they want to do, and see how many friends they have to contact before they find someone who is:
1. Free that night
2. Wants to do the same activity
3. Has the money to do whatever it is.
First one to find someone wins.
It’s discouraging. As we get older our lives become more busy, and more divergent.
Our jobs demand different hours, our family situations throw in curve balls, and the sheer need to do “adult” things often gets in the way of scheduling fun. So a Friday night of looking for someone to do things with, has often, for me, turned into a night on the couch with my cat.
But one Friday night I got tired.
A few nights of staying home by myself were ok, but eventually I just wanted to do something. There was a movie out I wanted to see, and after scanning through my phone and making failed attempts to find someone to go with, I thought “This sucks. But I’m going anyway.”
So I went. And I LOVED it.
That night was the first taste of my soon-to-be addiction to going to the movies alone, which turned out to be a gateway to eating breakfast in restaurants alone, and other unthinkable scenarios. It’s been empowering, and has given me the opportunity to do more of what I want, without being constrained by the absence of someone else.
So if you’re someone who struggles with not always having someone around to do things with, here are three lessons I’ve learned from doing more by myself. I hope they might encourage you to try it too:
1. We imagine people judge us more often than they actually do
One of the biggest reasons we don’t do things on our own is because we don’t want to be seen alone. Am I right? We don’t want others to assume we are lonely, or a “loser”. And I get that.
But you know what? Not once in all the times I’ve gone out by myself has someone said anything negative or offered their condolences to me, and not once has anyone ever seen me again somewhere else, ran up to me and said “Hey! Aren’t you the girl who was at Beauty and the Beast sitting by yourself last week?”
People (especially strangers we will never see again) are rarely spending as much time thinking about us as we are spending thinking about what they’re thinking about us. Don’t let what someone else MIGHT (might = possibly, not confirmed) be thinking be what stops you from enjoying the moment. And who knows? If they’re anything like me, they’re just sitting there thinking “You go girl!”
2. It can be worth it to do something alone, rather than miss out entirely
I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but not doing something purely because you don’t have someone to do it with, is a double disappointment. It’s not only disappointing because you don’t have someone to go with, but it’s also disappointing because you didn’t get to do the thing you wanted to!
Now certainly there are things we’d all genuinely rather do with someone else, and that’s totally valid, but in all the times I’ve had to make the choice to go it alone or not at all, I’ve not once regretted saying “I’m going anyway!” Life doesn’t always give us the perfect circumstances, so if we spend our time waiting for them, we might miss out on life altogether!
3. It’s empowering to be capable of being alone in a scenario where most other people are not
Being the “different” one in any scenario is always difficult, and in this case, it’s especially intimidating and anxiety-producing if you’re worried other people have noticed. But overcoming and pushing through the uncomfortable moments can be surprisingly empowering. As someone who previously couldn’t fathom doing something alone in a situation where most people are with someone else, having the confidence to do it now makes me feel, well, kind of awesome.
That first night that I went to the movies solo, I was nervous, and honestly, a little sad at first. But as I looked around at the other movie-goers, pretty much all of whom were with other people (mostly couples, to top it off), I found myself thinking “Look at me. I’m doing this!” I felt proud. I was doing something no one else in that theater was.
So the next time that you find yourself itching for something to do, but can’t find someone to do it with, I encourage you to give going on your own a shot.
And if you find yourself feeling a little intimidated? Just remember you’re doing something that most other people won’t. Something brave, courageous and independent. Own it. Rock it. And I hope you’ll enjoy it!