Why You Should Do More Things On Your Own

If there’s one thing I hate more than anything else is having to do things alone. And I wouldn’t be surprised if most of you were like me.

There’s just something about it that’s daunting and totally awkward. But it was something I wanted to work on, and I promised myself I would be more fearless this year.

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My first trip on my own was HerConference in NYC over the summer. My friend and I were supposed to go together, but she ended up backing out. For weeks I went back and forth about going by myself. Would I be fine on my own in the big city that I’ve only been to once? Was this conference really worth all the extra money it was going to cost me now that I was on my own? Would any of the other club members take me under their wing?

It took me a few weeks to figure it all out. In the end, family members help fund the trip and my mom traveled from Ohio to NYC with me. She would explore NYC for the first time, while I attended a conference by myself. To say in the least, I was beyond nervous. I’ve never really done anything by myself, besides move to upstate New York for school.

I wish I could say I had a blast at the conference, but it wasn’t my favorite trip. I didn’t have anyone to go to the different panels with; and although we sat as a club at lunch, I didn’t really have a group to talk too. Despite being awkward and a little lonely, I wouldn’t take back the experience for anything. I got a lot of really great writing and career advice, and I got to spend a few days in my favorite city. Plus, I skipped out early on the second day to go sightseeing with my mom, which was really special.

Even though HerConference wasn’t the greatest experience I ever had, I have to say I learned a lot. And more than just writing advice. I learned that I could trust myself to navigate a big city, figure out a subway system (with the help of my phone, of course), and despite how awkward it could get at times, I learned that I could go to a conference far away from home (mostly) by myself.

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More recently, I decided to venture out by myself again to a coffee shop in Troy, New York. My cousin and I were supposed to go together, but last minute she couldn’t go. I had been waiting all week to go to the Whistling Kettle that I decided why not? I could work on my final paper and drink tea and eat an expensive salad. I have to say though – besides the anxiety of finding a parking spot where I didn’t have to parallel park – it was really awkward walking into the tea shop and telling the lady I needed a table for one. She gave me a weird look as she grabbed the menu, and I can’t blame her. Most people don’t go out to eat by themselves. But I was.

In the beginning it was awkward. I felt like everyone was looking at me, thinking, “Why is that girl by herself?” I awkwardly fumbled with stuff on the table, examining the menu too intensely before pulling out my laptop. After a while, it became less awkward, people weren’t actually looking at me, and it was no big deal.

And I wondered to myself…Why were you even scared to come here by yourself? It’s no one’s business what you do.

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These two instances taught me a lot. You’re probably wondering how an adventure to a tea shop really taught me anything at all? Well it did. It taught me that doing things on your own really helps you become confident in yourself, but more than that, it taught me that I shouldn’t miss out on opportunities just because I have to go by myself. Yeah, it’s going to be awkward. Yeah, it might be awkward the whole time, but at least you did it, right?

Doing things on your own lets you experience things in a different way, because you don’t have someone to cling too. It makes you become comfortable with yourself, and it pushes you out of your comfort zone.

So make a goal for yourself. Next time you want to go to something and no one will go with you: go by yourself. What’s the worst that could happen? You leave early? So what? At least you can smile on your way home and think, “Man, am I proud of myself.” It might be over something small, like going to a tea shop by yourself, but you deserve to relish in your own pride on the car ride home.