Riding solo

Does doing things on your own make you a strange pea? Does that mean you’re lonely?

Back home, I always had company to do the things I wanted. Whether it was grabbing a coffee, a movie, dinner or drinks, a walk…there was always a friend for comfort and joy. Being alone in a restaurant made me nervous. I had this nagging feeling that I was being watched and that it was awkward.

Who walks in alone to the movies?

This always made me nervous. I was never one to eat out alone or watch a movie that I really wanted to without company. I had voices in my head telling me I was lonely and strange to go out on my own. This post is not about ‘me time’ or being self-sufficient. It is about doing what you want to, with or without someone because it makes you happy.

Last year, around this time I booked tickets to my first ever Australian concert. This was before I had even moved here. My mother was furious, my friends were excited, I was in awe. I booked a ticket to a concert alone. It was either doing something I had on my bucket list or missing out on an opportunity that might not present itself again. Today, I am really glad I did because it turned out to be one of the most memorable nights of my life. I danced with strangers and cried with them too. We made our memories, shared them and put them in our own treasure boxes.

Spending time alone is underrated. 

Spending time alone allows you to introspect and learn. More importantly, it changes you and allows you to change yourself. About a year ago, I was a socially awkward person who wouldn’t get out of her comfort zone (with or without others). Today, I am (more) comfortable with myself in a crowd.

You’re not expected to have fun, you choose to have fun. You’re not expected to walk down iconic streets and statues, you design your own map to follow. You’re not expected to blend, you stand out.

I (you) wander with wonder.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my friends and the company but I’ve also grown to love my own company (some might say too much). You always have to travel to new places or countries. My travel experience in the last year has mostly been to undiscovered places in my own life, body and mind. I have learnt what I like and what I don’t. I’m sure there’s more.

Being alone hasn’t freed my soul in the way books and movies make it out to be. I’m probably still waiting on that Eat Pray Love moment, I don’t know. Do I want that moment? Maybe. Do I need that moment? No. There are days I get lost in city loops (no thanks to Google) and am left anxious. I chase pavements and fight the winds. I run in circles and walk 2 minute routes for 20 minutes but find my way to the destination. And after everything, I find my way back home. That is my moment.

Doing things on your own is uncomfortable and hard work (for the body and mind). And it definitely is not the romantic picture people paint out for you. It is simple, and the truth is you’re alone. Some days, it is me at a coffee shop ordering the wrong coffee and reading my book. At times, it is me at a four-hour concert down two beers and needing to pee right when my favourite song plays. Sometimes, it is me ordering two types of burgers to decide which one I like more. Other times, it is me at new places asking strangers to take photos of me to send my mother hoping they won’t run away with my phone (love you mammma). It is one day at a time towards avoiding all those ‘what if’ moments in your life when you’re 60 and in that rocking chair with your cup of tea.

Most days, it is me a lot less distracted from what I’m supposed to do for validation because I am too busy doing what I want to do for myself.

Being alone doesn’t always have to be a liberating experience. It just needs to be an experience. It needs to be your story to tell, whether big or small. It is your story to tell, failed or successful. We’re all tiny dancers on the world stage, telling our stories through our experiences. I have found my strengths and weaknesses in moments like these. Not everyone enjoys being alone. But if you ever choose to be, know that even in our lonely adventures, we are together.

I know, we’re gonna get it, get it together and float
We’re gonna get it, get it together and go
Up, and up, and up.

Get out to remember, not to forget!

Photo by Daniel Chekalov on Unsplash