on the value of doing things alone

Hi! It’s been a few weeks since I said hello.

Tonight, I’d like to share some thoughts with you about being independent. More specifically, let’s chat about the importance of riding solo from time-to-time.

The people in your life are important. We need others to thrive in life — family, friends, support systems. But ultimately, the most significant relationship you will ever cultivate is the one you have with yourself.

You are the only person who will be there for every second of your life. That means you need to get very comfortable with the person you are.

Over the past year or so, I’ve realized how much I enjoy doing things without any companionship. Of course, I enjoy doing things with my husband, family, and friends, too. But there is a unique pleasure in only worrying about your own needs, whims, and desires.

Here are some reflections on things I’ve done alone this year: Each of these experiences provided an opportunity for growth, self-examination and empowerment.

I hope after reading my stories, you will feel emboldened to try doing something by yourself that you usually wouldn’t.

Three things to try doing alone

Travel | April 2018

I certainly believe that travel is good for the soul. Stretching yourself and discovering new things in a new place with new people is always a great growing experience.

I believe that the value nearly doubles when you choose to travel alone. I have had a lot of really memorable trips: with my family, with my husband, with my friends. But the trips I’ve taken alone are truly among the most special to me. I tend to learn more about myself than I imagined possible.

For my first solo trip of 2018, I flew to San Francisco for the day. Many people expressed their skepticism and disapproval of this decision. Oh well. Those two words are important to hold onto, if you choose to pursue an independent life. There will always (and I mean always) be someone who disapproves of what you are doing—Oh well.

I woke up at 3 in the morning to drive to the Portland airport. I would land at SFO before 9 a.m. and be home to Oregon before the day ended. As I drove from my house to the airport, I was filled with excitement.

When I got to the airport, I remembered just how much I enjoy flying by myself. Yep, I’m that weird person who doesn’t mind airplanes, but if I’m with others, it gets stressful quickly. Not having to wait for someone in the security line is a definite bonus.

I also learned that I love day trips because you don’t have a bag to lug around! My tiny purse backpack was so much easier to maneuver onto the plane than my bulky North Face.

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Me and my tiny backpack in an itty bitty dressing room in Haight-Ashbury

I had traveled alone for business before, but never for pleasure. It was phenomenal. I could do whatever I wanted without considering other people or checking in with them. If you’ve never visited a city alone before — go!

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It was, indeed, a very nice day.

You will learn what you truly want to do and what you really enjoy, away from the influence of those close to you. You will discover how you respond to new situations and deal with stress and anxiety when you don’t have others to support you. You will figure out what your individual weaknesses and strengths are, and you can work on improving.

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What do I really enjoy? Glossier obviously!

Traveling alone will make you a better person by illuminating the flaws you might subconsciously attribute to other people. Even if you just drive to the next city over, go! And go with no other purpose than to enjoy your own company.

Movie theaters | July 2018

Ever wanted to see a movie that nobody was willing to go to? Buy a damn ticket. I don’t understand the weird stigma around going to the movies alone, but it kept me from doing it for years.

This summer, bored out of my mind in Salem and waiting for law school to start, I decided to conquer my fear of going to a movie theater alone. I bought a matinee ticket to RBG (which you should definitely see, if you haven’t!)and confidently strolled in.

It was my worst nightmare! The local independent cinema was playing the documentary in a room that only seats about 20 patrons. There was no fading into the background of a huge commercial theater—it was obvious I had come alone.

At first, I felt extremely anxious. I wondered what the people around me must think of me. I knew they must be judging me. But as the story of Judge Ginsberg’s life began to unfold on the screen, I realized that it didn’t matter. At all. I was never going to see these people again in my life.

When I finally let myself relax and enjoy the film, I learned something important about myself. Going to the movies alone allowed me to be considerably more engaged with the film. I’m guilty of watching the reactions of the people I’m with more than what they’re reacting to. Being by myself allowed me to focus on the movie and detach from the world for awhile, something I’d never experienced before.

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The following week, I went to the movies alone, again. I saw Eighth Grade. Because I wanted to. And if there’s a movie you want to see, I encourage you to do the same—even if you feel weird going alone.

Concerts | November 2018

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I had finally conquered my fear of movie theaters, but concerts…those are a whole different ball game. I had planned to go alone to see Janelle Monae this summer, but a friend decided to go with me at the last minute.

But I knew going to a concert alone was something I wanted to try. When my cousin Ellie couldn’t come to a Lily Allen concert with me, I finally decided to be brave. Because hey, I really wanted to see Lily Allen.

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As it turns out, going alone was toad-ly awesome!

The concert was yesterday. I felt incredibly anxious about going by myself. It helped that I had been to the venue, Roseland Theater, a few times before. I drove up to Portland after my classes were finished for the day and met my close friend Amber for dinner.

To be honest, it took all my willpower not to drive home after we finished eating. I was incredibly nervous — but I knew if I was brave enough to go, I would have fun. So I took a deep breath, drove into the Pearl, found a parking spot, and trekked my way through a mini-city of homeless folks to the theater.

Full disclosure: I went straight into the bar and took two tequila shots to cut the nerves. I never said it’s easy to do things alone, after all! Some liquid courage is helpful at times. As I felt the alcohol burn my throat, I knew it was going to be fine. In a few minutes, I’d feel happy and free.

In reality, it took longer than that. I don’t think I felt truly comfortable for half an hour or so. But as the energy in the crowd grew and I danced to songs by a woman who’s blared through my headphones since I was in elementary school, I couldn’t help but have an amazing time.

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I left with my ears ringing and my heart full of gratitude, thankful to myself for being brave enough to do something new.

I hope you each continue to cultivate your relationship with yourself. Let me know if you have any ideas for other things I could try doing alone in 2019!

xo,

Amanda

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