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Life > Experiences

Solo Mission: Why You Need To Start Doing Things Alone

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Amherst chapter.

Growing up an only child, I did practically everything alone. I played outside alone, I made new friends alone, I learned how to ride my bike alone, and I even played with dolls alone — acting as every character at once. I had an amazing childhood (and thankfully, my parents and friends made sure I wasn’t by myself all the time) yet when I tell people this, so many respond with pity. The all too common, “Oh my gosh, that makes me so sad. Weren’t you lonely?” still rings in my ears to this day. It’s easy to laugh off, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve begun to turn this comment on its head: Why is doing things alone seen as shameful?

In our modern society, so much emphasis is placed on the group collective. We are encouraged to eat in groups, work together, and exercise together — there is even the classic ‘Bring A Friend’ discount at most fitness centers. Being surrounded by others is seen as a sign of strength, as if there is power in numbers. That is how most of us view being in a group, consciously or subconsciously. Consequently, there is the looming fear that being by yourself may be interpreted as being the odd one out. We fear that if we look like we don’t belong, then maybe we truly don’t

Yet, the truth is, doing things alone is liberating. Just this past year, I was a freshman at a small liberal arts college in Boston. Being a first-year student in a completely new environment made me very anxious. It would normally have been second nature for me to go somewhere on my own. I had to regain my confidence. 

I had always wanted to try a SoulCycle class. SoulCycle is a popular spin studio that has locations across the globe, and there are a few in Boston. I asked everyone I knew if they wanted to go with me. No one was interested, and I was petrified to go alone. The studio was off-campus in an area I had never been to. I had no idea where I could park, who was going to be there, and I had never taken a spin class. As November rolled around, I realized that no one was going to decide to go with me. I could either go by myself or not at all. On this Thursday night, I didn’t seem to care anymore. I logged into SoulCycle and booked my bike: a 7 a.m. ‘RISE AND RAVE’ class, with my name on it. I had never worked out that early in my entire life. 

Friday morning was here, and miraculously I woke up to my alarm on the first ring. Before I knew it, there I was, sitting in SoulCycle on my bike. The music was on, the lights were off and the flashing colors of the disco light were all I could see. My anxious mind had convinced me that the class would be full; people with their eyes glued to me the entire time, judging my every move. Well, obviously that was not the case. The class was small, and just like I was, everyone was focused on what they were doing. As soon as I realized this, I let my mind go and focused on the movement.

While spin is definitely a learning curve, and it took me many more classes to get fully adjusted to the workout, I left my first class feeling excited and empowered. My first mission, in the books. Since that cool, fall day last November, I have taken more spin classes than I can count. I never broke the 7 a.m. habit, and spin has become my release. I moved on to spinning at a local fitness studio back home this summer, and now at UMass Amherst, I am taking 7 a.m. Rec Spin every day. I have gone with my friends, and my mom, but I honestly love taking class alone. Next semester, I plan to get my spin instructor license, and begin teaching classes in the fall. 

I learned that day that being alone isn’t always lonely. And being alone doesn’t have to coincide with anxiety. Learning to venture out on your own is an incredibly valuable skill. Don’t hold yourself back, just because it is uncomfortable to move forward. While of course, I would love for us all to join a nice 7 a.m. spin class, it’s not about spin. Think about something you want to do and haven’t done because no one was there to do it with you. Your leap of faith could turn into a passion. Plan the date, set your alarm, and you too can say: “mission completed.”

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Ava Neely

U Mass Amherst '25

Ava Neely is a sophomore at UMass Amherst, majoring in Journalism on the PR track, with an intended minor in Arts Management. She is in the Commonwealth Honors College, and is focusing her career path on public relations, as well as magazine journalism and the arts. She (obviously) loves to write, and currently writes a fashion column, "The Minute Wear" for The Massachusetts Daily Collegian. In her free time she writes a lot of poetry and short stories. She has an ardor for art and graphic design, she is the Assistant Graphics Editor for the Collegian. Outside of college, Ava loves being active, and has an avid passion for spin! She loves the outdoors, which includes skiing and surfing. She is passionate about sustainable fashion and is a stylist in the UMass Fashion Organization. She hopes to one day work in a PR agency, or have a column for a major publication.