I can’t decide if choosing to be alone while I was single was harder than being alone now that I’m married. When I was single there was that stigma of being a lone woman in public, surrounded by happy couples or more attractive women on the prowl when all I wanted to do was have an adventure. As a married woman I feel a level of protection against that stigma because I have a ring on my finger which clearly states that although I am alone in this restaurant, I am not alone in my life.
Strange how our minds go there, but that’s part of the challenge of being independent – the self-conscious voice in our heads that tell us we don’t belong somewhere if we aren’t accompanied by a friend, lover, or family. We live so much of our lives with other people that being alone, truly alone, in a place where no one knows us is embarrassing.
Yet, as a wife I felt this need and desire to spend all my spare time with my husband. The idea of intentionally leaving him behind while I went out and had fun felt selfish and neglectful. There was guilt when I had a girls date with my friends. Never mind the fact that I encouraged him to do the same with his friends. You see, I could see the value in him taking time for himself, but I couldn’t understand the value it held for me. My husband and I did the math; I have lived alone for only eighteen months, in six month spurts, out of my entire life and even then those months were connected to a spouse to some degree.
Alone time is a commodity we undervalue and ignore all too often. Think about it. We are constantly surrounded by people we’re connected to whether it is work, school, family…Even if we aren’t around them physically we have this magic little device in our back pocket that lets us stay connected even when we’re apart. Tell me, when you’re waiting for the bus to come or in line at the grocery store, or for your oil change do you whip out your phone to occupy your time, to fill the awkwardness of having no one to talk to?
Being alone can be uncomfortable and we often times don’t know how to handle it. It takes practice and an easing in to little things to be able to go on and do great ones – like exploring the Sahara Desert on camel back!
Five Ways To Learn How To Love Being Alone:
Take a day-long road trip: Turn off the radio and just drive. See what it feels like to be by yourself for a while. No distractions – just the road and your thoughts. This is a great way to ease yourself into being independent of others and not feel like there are eyes watching you. Your inner voice of self-doubt won’t have room to blossom here because there is no one to judge you for being alone. Drive to the ocean only to turn around and drive home.
Eat in a restaurant: Your best friend will be a book, so put your phone away. I know, I know – you’re going to ask what the difference between being distracted with a book is versus your phone. Simply put, the book is a story while your phone harbors your friends and network. I carry a book in my purse and slowly get through it. I prefer this over putting books on my phone or a tablet because I am seeking that disconnection from being connected to everyone and everything all of the time. A book in your hands has a grounding affect unparalleled by today’s technology.
Go to a movie: I did this a few years back and it was my first true experience of being intentionally alone. I spent the day at the movie theater watching two movies, back to back, that I really wanted to see. I felt so rebellious being there because, in my mind, the movie theater is a place for couples or friends. It’s considered weird to go by yourself and I have to say, it was a blast! I sat right in the middle of the theater, ate my pop corn, and enjoyed the shows. It was the beginning of my own personal independence movement.
Museums and Art Galleries: Stand before a piece of abstract art and contemplate its meaning. What does it mean to you. Walk through the gallery and spend the day enjoying the talents of others. Take notes in a notebook, sit off in a corner somewhere and watch the reactions to your favorite piece by other people. Or learn something new about the world’s history by exploring a historical museum. I envy those of you who live in a large city and have such places available to you in such quantity!
Travel: This is a big one. It took me a while to get to this level of comfort, but it only took a spark for me to fall madly in love with going somewhere by myself, where no one knew me, and making friends, exploring the world, enjoying my time fearlessly. And that’s the best part – it’s incredible the people you meet along the way, the one-on-one exposure to the culture you’re immersed in, the absolute control you have over your day’s destiny. It encourages you to try new things and broadens your scope of the world and her people.
This is only the beginning of the adventures you will have.
Do you do any of these regularly? Fill out the survey below!
4 thoughts on “#SeeGirlTravel: Learning to Be Alone”
I love this. I feel like being a single woman has far too many ridiculous implications. Being married has changed how the world see's me, even though I'm the same person. Go figure.
Oh, I wish you weren't listed as \”Unknown\”! I wonder how many single women are out there who wear wedding band type rings to stave off the stigma of being single. It's a shame, but it would be a good ruse.
MargaretI think I have felt more alone being married than I did in my 50 years of singleness. The things I thought I would share–I discovered I have to keep secret to keep them sacred. Rings don't necessarily keep you \”safe\” from intrusions–that's a choice we make.
This is a very intimate, genuine response to this article – THANK YOU for sharing a piece of yourself with us. I agree, there are many times when I realize I need to protect pieces of myself to maintain that sacredness.