This past summer has kind of been about “dating myself”. Before June this year, the main thing I could do by myself is shopping or going to a place like Panera or Starbucks to get something to-go and then go home. I was never comfortable. I always felt out of place or that I just wasn’t good enough to be there on my own. In June, I lived alone for a month in Brattleboro, VT. I had friends around, but they were all pretty busy. I ended up exploring a lot solo. It was completely nerve-racking at first. Every place I went I was completely self-consciousness. I judged every step I took, things that I looked at, how much time I spent where, and any other thing you could possibly think of to judge. I was insanely critical. After a few times of exploring different towns or parks, I finally just let go. I slowly stopped being self-consciousness and critical of myself. It was freeing. I started to prefer to do things solo rather with others. This solo-adventuring habit continued through July.
In August, I came back home to my parents for a few weeks. It’s in a small town. I was nervous I was going to lose my interest in solo adventuring. When I go back home, I find myself getting in the similar mindset that I was in high school. Even more self-critical and depressed. Surprisingly, I was okay. There was a man giving a talk I wanted to see at the local library. None of my friends could attend. I went anyway. I got dinner before-hand. I sat in the front row. I didn’t hide in the back to make myself invisible. I decided that I wanted to be there and I wanted to experience it the best way possible, so that’s what I did.
I still have moments when I second-guess myself or I self-deprecate myself out loud to others. At the talk at the library, I walked in front of people twice in this same row. I apologized and called myself annoying to them. It was a slip. It’s going to happen again.
I was talking to another woman my age and she said how impressed she was with my solo travels this summer and how she could never do that. This is a woman that I picture as self-confident and self-loving. I thought I was behind her on all those fronts. It surprised me to hear her say that. It’s such a strange idea to be scared of. Doing something alone. I understood it, of course. I was the same way. It’s hard to get out that habit. It always takes a small step in the most uncomfortable way possible. Going to a museum. Eating at Panera alone instead of doing take-out. Soon it gets bigger and better.
Now, I can’t do everything alone all the time. It gets lonely. Sometimes it is nice to share an experience with others. By having the option to do things solo or with others, is incredibly empowering. Knowing that you don’t have to depend on another person to have fun and go out.