9 Tips to Become an Independent Woman

College is all about making that transition between being a kid and an adult. My biggest goal my freshman year was to learn how to become independent. It is an easy concept to understand, but it's much harder to put into practice. Here are a few ways to go about doing so:

1. Go to the movies by yourself

The first time I did this, I wore a hat because I felt uncomfortable with the idea of seeing someone I knew. Now, going to the movies by myself is one of my favorite things to do. I see what I want to see, I can always find a seat because I’m just looking for myself and I'm never worried that whomever I’m with will see me cry (I cry during, like, EVERY movie). It’s also dark and quiet in the movie theater, so no one is going to ask you why you’re by yourself if you feel uncomfortable.

2. If you can, live by yourself

I was in a financial situation where I was able to get an apartment by myself. I completely understand that not everyone can do that, especially in college. However, if you get the opportunity, I will say this: I have learned so much about myself while living alone. I saw that I was able to solve problems and could stay alive if I took care of myself. I unclogged my own toilet and solved my own maintenance problems. It was a wild ride I am so glad I went on. 

3. Take yourself to dinner

This is similar to going to the movies alone, only this time you are out in the open and everyone is talking around you. This one was one of the hardest things to do, but when I came around to it I enjoyed myself. It’s nice to treat yourself to a dinner and a wonderful atmosphere. Plus you get to people watch, and that is one of the most fun things to do.

4. Be your own date

I went out with a group of people and I quickly realized that everyone was going to be paired up with a date except for me. Instead of scrambling around to find a date last minute, I decided I would be the token single person or seventh wheel. People might have felt uncomfortable at first, but I went in to the situation saying I was my own date. I had a great time and enjoyed myself just like I would have if the situation were different.

5. Don’t make excuses for being single

This is to all my single sisters out there: Stop making excuses for being single. When asked why we're not in a relationship, we always give answers like, “Oh, I don’t know," when we should just be honest. Some of us want to be single and we’re happy being that way. Instead of acting unsure or making up an excuse, say you’re getting to know yourself more before you want to jump into a relationship. There is nothing wrong with you! You’re fabulous. Treat being single like you would treat being in a relationship, because in both situations you are still you.

6. Don’t make excuses for being by yourself somewhere

When I started going to the movies by myself and taking myself to dinner, my friends were always saying things like, “You could have called me. I wasn’t doing anything!” I used to make excuses instead of saying the truth: I wanted to be by myself. For some reason, some people think that being by yourself has to be in private and try to give you grief when you do it in public. Start to change that notion and own up to it!

7. Develop a hobby

When people start something new, it's common to think that you need a friend to join you. However, something that makes you feel connected to yourself is a perfect way to figure out what you like and don't like. I took up arm-knitting and was able to make these cool scarves and blankets for the people I loved. It was a great way to assert my own independence AND develop a new talent.

8. Study abroad

Everyone that has studied abroad says it teaches you so much about yourself. You learn to navigate a foreign city by yourself, you learn a new culture and you step outside of your comfort zone. Studying abroad is one part learning from new people and two parts learning about yourself. Pro-tip: KU is one of the leading colleges for studying abroad. Take the opportunity to learn how you can go!

9. Make plans contingent on your happiness rather than based on other peoples’ plans or feelings

I am a huge people-pleaser and have always been the mom in any group. I made plans that included compromises for everyone and something everyone could have fun doing. I would sacrifice that play I really wanted to go to, a movie I wanted to see, etc. When I learned that I could do things in public by myself and be happy and comfortable, I stopped sacrificing things I wanted to do. I still do things with my friends, and I still enjoy doing things with them, but I make room for the things I want to do too, even if it might be unpopular in my friend group.

The best way to get to know yourself is to spend time with yourself. While some of these things might seem selfish, this is the time to do so. If you’re in a relationship, your S.O. will love a girl who knows who she is and doesn’t need them every minute of the day. If you’re single, you’ll enjoy being single much more because you’re taking time to date yourself.

So go be true and be you, by yourself!