What's wrong with going solo?
I can still remember the first bad break-up I went through. After almost six years of facing the world with someone beside me, the thought of suddenly being on my own was absolutely terrifying. It was like I had forgotten how to think for myself. I was so used to saying 'we', and 'us', there was no 'me', or 'I'. I felt like pity was coming at me from all directions.
The thought of doing things on my own was petrifying to me, and I couldn’t understand why. I think it was because I feared being judged by other people. My whole life it was like I was trained to think that being alone meant you didn't have any friends, it meant that you must be lonely. If I saw someone eating on their own, rather than think they were being brave for doing so, I’d feel pity for them. Did s/he not have any friends to eat with? Did someone stand them up? I found a lot of my friends also thought that way, and as I'm sitting here today, I wonder why? Why do we sometimes think that way? Why is it when we’re on holiday and we find out someone has joined the same tour on their own, we feel a little bad for them? Why is it when we go to the movies, and there’s a person sitting by themselves, we think they must not have friends to watch with? I needed to break this chain of thought. I needed to get comfortable with being alone. I had to feel confident enough to know that I didn’t need anyone to be content. I had to go on a journey to learning how to love myself.
I remember sitting down with my little sister one night and talking about all this with her. I talked about how hard it was for me to be out on my own when I was so used to having someone always with me. It was quite sad actually because growing up, I had always envisioned myself as an independent person and yet, here I suddenly was, I had lost all of my confidence. We came up with the idea of making a list (another bucket list, I know) of items or activities that I had to do on my own. A lot of them were really simple things like eat in a restaurant on my own, other items were just random activities that I had always wanted to do, but couldn’t because of the relationship I had been in. The aim was for each to slowly help me break out of my shell. The goal wasn’t to fulfill every item. The goal was to get to the point where I didn’t need a bucket list to challenge me. I would get to the point where I was so comfortable with being on my own that doing the activities would come naturally. I’ll share the list in case some of you might be in that same position I was in a couple of years ago.
I put travel somewhere alone as the last one because it took me awhile to actually get the nerve to do it, but I think if there was anything on the list that helped me gain my confidence back, it would be that one. The realisation that there is absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying your time alone was a game changer. Sometimes it's nice to just go out, and treat yourself to a meal. Eat by yourself, go to the movies by yourself, go on a tour by yourself. It's so refreshing to be able to take a break from everyone else. And now when I see the reaction on people's faces when they realise I'm going off on my own, I smile to myself because maybe they just don't understand, and that's okay. I no longer feel insecure about it. I don't care what they think because well.. who gives a shit as long as I am happy with myself?
So for everyone out there that might be at a point in your lives where you're feeling hopeless about being alone, don't stress out too much. The anxieties will pass, and you'll be fine. The first few times will be the most difficult, but trust me, you'll eventually warm up to the experience of going out on your own. In fact, you may even enjoy it more than being with other people. You deserve to give yourself some alone time every now and then. Embrace the freedom.