A friend of mine was recently in a minor panic about traveling by herself. She hasn’t traveled solo in years, and the idea of getting to the airport, the luggage, navigating around and everything else, felt overwhelming.
She hit a trigger in me because I remember recently walking through the airport feeling really proud of myself.
I know, this might sounds sort of silly.
Yet, yup, little ol’ me had an extra skip in her step and definitely an aura of “I’m an independent badass” while walking through the airport, simply because I was going from one destination to another all by my… yup, 39-year old self. I know, I’m incredible.
(remember when eight-year olds could practically go on flights by ourselves?)
I Uber’ed solo, handled my baggage and my own boarding pass, got my Mentos, pretzel M&Ms and Starbucks, and got my tush in the correct seat right on time.
Hand this girl a medal, and just call me Beyonce. Actually, Beyonce obviously has a huge entourage and never travels solo, but you get the point. She for sure could strut everywhere solo like the Queen she is.
Alas, I digress.
It was in this moment walking through the airport that I realized that while I am fiercely independent, own two businesses, and navigate most of my days solo and accomplish all the things, I rarely do the big stuff alone.
Do you eat a restaurant alone? Go to the movies? Explore a new area? Do you travel solo? Take a new fitness class on your own?
Do you feel compelled to do things with others? Or would rather hang at home instead of doing some of these things sans a plus one?
It started realizing that I’m so fiercely independent and yet often so dependent on others, even when I don’t realize I am.
My airport moment took me be surprise, and I realized it’s because my friend and I are simply used to traveling with our husbands, kiddos or girlfriends. I never even carry my own boarding pass.
You know why this is important though?
Why is it so important to do things on our own, particularly things outside our comfort zone or that you’d usually rely on someone else for?
You give yourself the space to make your own decisions.
You remind yourself that you’re more brave and fearless than you think.
You learn to enjoy your own company. Hopefully you learn to crave your own company.
You remind yourself that you are incredibly capable.
You learn to rely solely on your instincts.
You remind yourself of what you love to do, eat, see and explore.
You provide yourself the time necessary to reflect on what brings you joy and peace.
You better understand YOUR needs, wants and desires, instead of every person around you.
You realize you don’t know everything, and might fail… but you also remind yourself that you will figure out whatever comes your way. You always have.
Mind you, I’m not suggesting you need to travel for a week or a month solo in order to benefit from being more independent.
Heck, I proud I’m doing one hour hot yoga classes on my own, not asking a friend if they want to join me (and that I go when I want, and either chat with new people or come and go without speaking a word). It’s all my decision.
My solo travel the past year or two typically means I’m meeting up with a friend, going to a conference, traveling for work, or seeing a family member.
But it’s these small amounts of time from a few hours to two or three days that remind me that I can handle a little more today than I thought I could yesterday.
And this, this makes all the difference.
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Kimberly SmithAugust 6, 2019 at 8:39 AM
So funny because I’m finding that the older I get, the more introverted I become. In many cases, I’d rather do things alone than “open the dome”, so to speak. In contrast to what you shared here, I need to do a better job of reaching out to others & doing the work to foster friendships because I tend to isolate a little too much as it is now.
KellyAugust 6, 2019 at 8:37 AM
I really don’t mind dining at a restaurant alone (especially when there is outside dining so I can enjoy people watching inconspicuously), going to a movie theater or joining a class or organization by myself. I actually prefer shopping alone so I can set my own pace. But traveling is a whole other story! I blame it on the fact that I am extremely directionally challenged. I don’t mean a little bit; it’s a source of entertainment for my family! European subway systems are just mind boggling to me. If my google maps does not lead me exactly to the front door of where I want to go I feel a little panicked! I will happily plan the complete travel itinerary in the most efficient manner but I ALWAYS travel with someone else. I have asked my husband to let me sort of take the lead at airports in case one day I need to go it alone but that’s about as far as I’ve gotten. My daughter has traveled alone to Europe and India for business and is on a continental flight every week. That will never be me and, actually, I’m ok with it.
SharonAugust 6, 2019 at 8:16 AM
I love doing things on my own… a lot of them even more so than with others!!! I was not always this way… As someone who is around people all the time at work and manages client needs, who has 2 busy kids and a husband, I have to think for others all the time. The mental energy that takes is draining to me. I travel a fair bit for work and almost always do it along… with that has come exploring new areas alone, going to restaurants alone etc. I also love going to the movies alone. I actually feel now that I have to make more of an effort to include others. I just feel like it is so much easier alone.. my own schedule, no need to compromise etc.