July 31

Learning to be alone but not lonely

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I recently had an interesting chat with a follower of mine on social media who said in one of her lives that she has no problem going out alone to various social activities. I said to her that “this was bold” and she shared that she didn’t see it this way and that “she would not go out at all if she depended on other people.” This made me think about myself and how much I depended on people to go out with me. I thought of myself pretty self-sufficient in other areas of my life but when it came to doing outside activities by myself; that was just not happening. There was a level of discomfort when it came to this, and I just wouldn’t go out at all. I felt self-conscious or insecure when I did go out by myself and under a microscope even though logically, no one was paying me any attention. I realized that I had always been this way, even as a child. Despite being an only child who should be used to being alone, I just wasn’t.

Don’t get me wrong, I can do certain things alone. Running errands, attending business or networking events, things like this I had no problem engaging in. It was the type of events, where it was the norm to go with someone that gave me pause. Restaurants, clubs, concerts, going to new travel destinations, etc. I can engage with others with no problem in a setting where I’m around people that I know but not in a new social setting with complete strangers. That is a level I have not gotten to even in my 40 something years of age. And I have no idea what is stopping me from getting there. I think on some level I suffer with social anxiety that causes me to blow things out of proportion in my mind and make me feel that I will fail in new social situations.

In the land of social media, I’m seeing more millennials and Gen Z folks embarking on new adventures alone and seeming quite happy with doing so.  I’m an elder millennial who still approaches new situations with caution with irrational (yet plausible) fears of getting kidnapped or sex trafficked as a semi-young black female.  I worry that the will to travel places alone may land me in trouble and that there will be no one there to watch out for me or help if I get into a bad situation. However, I’m wondering if these are just simply excuses not to do something that I’m not comfortable with. I have yet to learn about any bad situation that anyone I know has encountered attending social events by themselves.

I envy folks that have the level of confidence to be lone wolves. Being alone but never lonely comes with a sense of confidence that you can be in any situation and thrive. A feeling of pure uninhibition and ruthless optimism. Not caring what others think or feeling shame about being out alone but a sense of certainty that you will master a new situation. It’s a freedom that must feel exhilarating. Never having to bug friends or family to go out with you because you know you will have just as much fun without them. Not being on someone else’s agenda and getting to leave when you want instead of having to wait on friends and family to be ready to leave. Getting to go new places and meet new people that can become friends rather than only sticking to the “lakes and valleys that you are used to.” I ain’t going to lie but I’m mad envious. And disappointed in myself.

It’s low key weird why I am the way I am but there is also a feeling of self-acceptance that I am this way for a reason, and I shouldn’t fight it. My life partner is entirely different despite him being the introverted one yet he revels in being out alone, especially to concerts, which are his jam. And despite me being the social butterfly, I’m like attached to his hip wanting to take him everywhere, lol. I wonder if once I’m ready to change, is it too late to do so? And what will that look like for me at my age?

I’m currently in the ‘pruning’ stage of life with my relationships. A few of my close friendships have been redefined because of me no longer seeing our relationships as mutually beneficial. I have made myself unavailable for relationships that don’t serve me. If my friendship is not valued as much I as value their’s, I am not interested in remaining in what I feel is a ‘dead’ relationship. It is time for me to be open to new friendships. Ones where we share common values and relatable ambitions. I’m looking forward to starting anew and haven’t looked back once. That’s definitely progress but there is room to grow. But I’m pretty proud that I’ve gotten even here…

So, let’s see what’s a good and easy first step for me to take in my journey of being “Alone but not lonely.” Any suggestions about some new things to try for someone who might be a little scared about taking on this new venture? I have the Beyonce concert coming up in a few weeks and although I’m not technically going by myself (my neighbor is giving me a ride), I will be sitting by myself in a section away from them. I heard that this concert is a vibe and that everyone pretty much becomes friends with those that are sitting nearby so I plan to make friends with my section mates. Does this still count as going out alone? Big me up cause I’m going to need it.

Let’s see how this goes…


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