There is a particular type of fear when it comes to doing certain things alone. As a society, it seems like we have classified specific activities as requiring a partner or a group. Not because they can’t be done alone but because there is a fear of being judged for being there alone. Today, I am talking about how my thoughts on doing things alone have changed as I have gotten older.
Of course, some things simply can’t be done alone. Playing tennis is a perfect example. And while you could bowl on your own, it isn’t really done.
Then there are the things that I am talking about. Things that one person could do on their own, yet, usually, people don’t want to do them alone. I am talking about activities like having dinner at a restaurant, going to a movie, seeing a show at a theater, attending a music festival, and traveling. Have you done any of these things alone? It seems that people are willing to sacrifice their enjoyment of something out of fear of doing that thing alone.
As an adult, I have realized that loving someone doesn’t mean loving all the same things. I’ve decided not to miss something just because my husband or a friend doesn’t want to join me. Plus, dragging someone to an activity they aren’t interested in might make it less fun.
When it comes to doing things alone, I started small. I remember the first time I saw a movie alone. On a Sunday afternoon, I went to a theater and saw Forgetting Sarah Marshall. The experience of doing something just because I wanted to and not being dependent upon someone else for me to have that experience helped to open up a new world of doing things solo.
I started to dine at restaurants alone. Often, I’d bring a book or sit at the bar so I didn’t feel so alone. Several years passed before I went to my first Broadway in Chicago show alone. Newsies was one of my favorite movies growing up, but the touring production was only in Chicago briefly over the holidays when most friends were traveling, and Charles was heading to Europe to ski. If I wanted to see the show, I would need to go alone. So I did. I quickly realized that no one cared that I was alone (if they never noticed).
I had this funny idea that when you walk into a place. like a theater, alone that everyone is going to notice that you are alone. That they might judge me for being alone. But they don’t! The fear is completely unfounded!
In 2019, I went to a music festival alone. I feel like music festivals are often events that people attend with groups of friends. When my favorite artist played at a festival in Florence – one of my favorite cities – I decided to go alone. I walked through the festival gates with a sense of pride that I was seeking joy without letting my solo traveler status hold me back. It felt empowering.
I am probably an extreme example of doing things alone. Even after getting married, I have gone on many solo trips – including a months-long journey around the world. I started small and gained more and more confidence when I did activities alone. There is so much freedom, joy, and power in doing exactly what you want without being dependent on someone else.
If you are intimidated by the idea of doing things alone (you aren’t the only one – I get messages about this frequently), start small. Go to a coffee shop alone or have lunch while sitting at the bar of a restaurant. Maybe create a day-long staycation – do a bunch of things you have been wanting to do in the place where you live all on your own! You don’t have to jump right into international travel.
One of the best messages that I can share is that none of my solo experiences have been less fun because I was on my own. Find the joy in being alone, it is lifechanging.