Monday, July 27, 2015

Going solo

I’ve noticed I’ve been going solo a lot recently. Whether it’s beach days, festivals, parks, or even out to eat, I’ve been enjoying a lot of summer outings alone. I would always start with plans with friends, but for one reason or another they weren’t able join. Therefore, I had a choice. I could stay in, still be alone, and let a beautiful sunny day go to waste. Or I could venture out and enjoy my own company.

I don’t want to mislead you. This can-do, adventurous spirit was the end result, but definitely not the beginning. I sulked for a few minutes each and every time someone bailed. I sang a chorus or two of “All by myself” followed by “Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, guess I’ll go eat worms.” I wondered if this was just my lot in life and I had better get used to it. I’m nothing if not dramatic. But then, once I finished indulging in my own private pity party (table for one please), I decided I would actually try to have a good time. I got dressed, got in the car, cranked up the music, and sang my way to each destination. I gave no thought for who might catch me car dancing. I was on a date with myself and determined to have a blast.
It’s easy to be bold in your car. It’s another thing to actually walk out into public space by yourself. All the self-conscious feelings of adolescence come rushing back. You’re sure people are staring at you. You mentally run through your mind with the best way to play it cool. Do you take a book and look intellectual? That only works in the right setting, not at a festival or music event. Do you fiddle with your smart phone? That’s always an option. Even if you have zero texts, emails, or social media updates, at least you look busy and presumably connected to unseen others in your life. Do you perhaps make eye contact and engage with others in your environment? That’s a hard no for me, but definitely an option for the more gregarious types. My point is there are lots of ways to manage the aloneness without feeling lonely. In fact, that’s a vital life skill we should all learn.
Going solo isn’t just about your relationship status. I think singles are faced with it much more often but it’s not about lacking a partner. Several married friends of mine have found themselves alone while their partner takes extended travel out of town, or even military deployment. Then they have to quickly learn how to fill the space and manage on their own. I’ve said it many times and firmly believe we’re made for connection. We need relationships and community. It’s just that there are times when said community is not physically available to us. That’s when we need to cultivate the first and primary relationship in our life- our relationship with ourselves. That way if we have our people, or we're going solo, we know we have everything we need.

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