Sooooo yesterday, I got real about my glamorous and happening social life in the big city (please read that as sarcasm), and so today’s the practical application (not sarcasm). If you didn’t read the precursor, go check that out here…k, welcome back.
So, what to do when you want to do things, but don’t have people to do with with? Do them anyways. Introducing, my guide to seeing your city by yourself, and loving it:
- Coffee shop. You used to do it to study/in college all the time. So, this time, don’t bring the computer. It’s really easy to hide behind a screen, and seem busy/productive—no one else can see it’s Pinterest, and you seem formidable. Leave the comfort blanket at home, and instead pretend you’re Anne Hathaway in some Indie movie. Bring a book, or a notepad, or something that you can easily disengage from. Lots of peoples do coffee shops alone, so this is a good first baby step.
- Window shopping. Most of us do this by ourselves anyways, but it’s usually accidental. At this time of the year, it’s really easy to rush between shops, checking gifts off lists, and hurrying between heated buildings. So grab a mocha, leave the list at home, bundle up, and get ready to mosey. Walk slowly past shops, and watch your reactions to window displays. Listen to yourself, you have a lot to say. This step is to realize how great a conversationalist you are, how much you see and notice, and your unfiltered and unedited responses to things. We curb our enthusiasm around others, so take a break from that. Spend 10 minutes daydreaming at an Anthropologie display, savor all the smells outside of Lush.
- Ikea. Okay, so this isn’t for everyone but y’all know I love Ikea. It’s like Pinterest in real life—all the possibilities for home decor, spread out over a maze of a warehouse. I don’t understand the people who find it stressful. But, Ikea is usually a family or couple event. You go with the person with whom you share a roof; you envision and design your home together. To go by myself seemed kind of anticlimatic, and kind of awkward. And yet, it was sooo wonderful. I wasn’t moving along too slowly for anyone, nor was I rushing someone through their creative process. It was just me and my mind’s eye, deciding if I really needed that easel chalkboard (I did) and if I needed to restock my dryck bubbel paron stash (I did).
- Café. It’s not a repeat, I promise; this is the restaurant that has wifi and coffee, but mostly serves food. A waiter will come by and ask if you’re waiting for someone else; you’ll take a breath, smile like it doesn’t bother you at all, and say no. You’ll see it—that flicker of respect/appreciation in their eyes. She’s okay with herself. She doesn’t need any one else. You can order a chai or a three-course meal, but either way, this venture is such an important one.
- Movie theater. I don’t know why, but this one was a million and ten times harder for me than any of the others. I made myself get there early, too, instead of just sneaking in. Movies have always seemed like a pretty social thing to me—you go with 15 of your gal pals, or on a date, or something; to go by myself seemed very “I have no one in my life who can spare an hour or two with me, but at least I have fictional characters”. But you know what happened? There were 3 other people that slipped into the theater by themselves. And it was totally fine. And Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling made me cry unapologetically and I was pretty okay with that.
- Anything you want. Literally. After you’ve conquered these, I can’t think of a thing that you can’t do. You’re comfortable with your own company, you’re doing all of the fun things, and you’re actually enjoying yourself.
- Bonus/pictured above: dress up. Ah, the cliche of cliches. Dress up for you. That dress you’ve been saving for a NYE party you’ve yet to attend? Put it on. The eyeshadow palette you’ve been practicing with? Break it out. The heels you can wear for 45 minutes before they start to ache? Now’s their time. The coat that people can’t ignore you in? Wear it everyday. Do some twirls in front of your mirror, and then again in downtown. People will watch, people will be curious. And you’ll be ready for their stare.
Would I still rather do these things with other people? Honestly, yes. I am still very much a people person, and still really wrestle with being by myself. Having a clear agenda still makes me shudder, and walking alone when everyone around seems to be stuck fast in their familial roles is still intimidating. But I’m learning that not having people around me constantly is an okay thing. I am not valuable because of what I bring to a group, but because of who I am. 22 might be a little late in the game to realize that, but I’m glad I did.