People always say you should do what scares you in order to grow. That’s an intimidating concept at its core and one I have ran away from for a long time. What scares me? Being alone.
I’m not scared of being alone in the romantic comedy sense, but rather, for the majority of my life, I was scared to actually do anything alone. My freshman year, I skipped a lot of meals in the dining hall because I was too scared to eat alone. Why? I was so scared that everyone who was there with their friends would judge me for being by myself. In my head, I could hear laughter about how I had no friends. In reality, no one even batted an eye, but my inner monologue and fear controlled me.
When I went to Disney, I felt it was time to change: I only had five months to take in this place and if I only did things when others were around, I knew I would leave with regrets. So, I did park days by myself. I booked meals for one. I explored the resorts when I wanted to. I also spent time with my friends and enjoyed their company, but I didn’t let my fear of being judged stop me from doing things alone too. It was about balance: I could be alone or with people.
So, I want to share with you all my favorite ‘alone’ activities, in case you’re new to spending time with yourself like I was.
- Coffee Shop. I’m convinced there is some hidden power in coffee shops (and I’m not talking about caffeine) because when I’m in them, I find it completely comfortable to be alone. I love working in coffee shops and so, I often bring my laptop to write an essay and do some readings, but I’ve also found I love coffee shops for relaxing alone time: I love just bringing a book and sitting and reading in a coffee shop. It’s a space where so many other people are by themselves that this whole idea of being judged for being alone goes away.
- Museums. The first place I ever went by myself was the Renwick Gallery in Washington, DC. Going to museums alone is one of my favorite activities, because you get to explore at your own time and pace and be taken away by what strikes you. I spent a good half hour just staring up at the ceiling at the Renwick and it was amazing– never before would I have been able to spend that type of time like that.
- Shopping. This one intimidated me. I had always gone shopping with either my mom, my sister, or my friends, but never alone. However, when I shop alone, I find I’m willing to take more risks in what I try on because I’m not worried about anyone commenting on how awful something looks on me. So, I try on things that look horrible but sometimes, I find a surprising good find that I would have completely missed out on otherwise.
I still hate eating alone at a sit-down restaurant and I sometimes hear that inner voice telling me everyone is judging me, but I’ve also found a solace in being alone and learning to enjoy my own company.