I’ll be the first to admit that I have not always been an independent woman. In fact, I would argue that earlier on in my life, I was the exact opposite and was co-dependent on everyone for everything. It took a lot of development, hard work and self-discovery before I really embraced the “solo-life”.
I no longer see shame and sadness in doing things on your own. Instead, I find myself craving solo time. To me, this means marching to the beat of your own drum and creating your own opportunities. Who says we have to share our experiences with others in order for it to mean something?
My first dining out experience alone was extremely nerve-racking. I was new to Vancouver and was spending most of my time outside of work at home, quickly growing restless and bored. While I had made a few friends early on, I was constantly finding myself waiting on others to explore all that this new city had to offer. A new city meant new beginnings, so I set an intention for the year and vowed to work on my relationship with myself — I started by making the brave decision to take myself out for dinner.
I had circled the restaurant I chose a few times before finally pushing myself to walk through the door. I walked up to the front and waited for the host to ask me that question I was dreading, “How many?” he said, to which I hesitantly replied, “Table for one please”. And to my surprise, he smiled and responded “Great, right this way”. Phew, what a relief. After I was seated and settled in, I ordered a little liquid courage to calm the nerves before ordering my meal of choice. I can’t say for sure whether it was the food itself, or just the feeling of victory, but a burger and fries never tasted so damn good!
This positive experience was one of many that I’ve had over the years, and on this journey I’ve learned some valuable lessons and developed habits that have helped shape me into the strongest most independent me. Here they are:
1. Value yourself and your alone time, self-care is important.
The longest and most important relationship you will ever have in your life, is the one you have with yourself, so be kind to you. In the long run, self-care and respect for yourself sets you up for a stronger and healthier relationship with others, so spend time nurturing it.
2. Learn to enjoy your own company and try new things.
Show yourself some love, try a few things out on your own, and have fun with it! Don’t know where to begin? Try one of these options:
Start with something simple, go for a long walk/hike or get in a sweat session at a group workout class you’ve never tried before.
Join a book club where you can have a discussion and share your ideas with new people. The ACE class runs a monthly book club, Wild Woman Book Club. Check out this month’s must read, by the inspiring Michelle Obama.
Go see that movie you’ve been dying to see that was just released in theatres.
Try out a new event in your community — go for brunch and connect with some inspiring women at your local Babes Who Brunch.
Take yourself out for a romantic dinner, because hell, you deserve it. This is a big one, so if you’re feeling intimidated it’s okay to bring a distraction with you (smart phone, book, etc.). It helps make the time pass and might make you feel a little bit more at ease.
3. Don’t fear the stigma of doing things alone, embrace it.
A woman who has the confidence to be out on her own and do things for herself, is a woman to be admired. Yes, you might get the odd stare or comment, but that’s okay, don’t let the preconceived notions of others affect your actions. It’s completely normal to feel self-conscious at first, it’s all a part of the process of growth, self-care and building your confidence.
Having time alone with myself allows me to clear my thoughts and escape some of the stresses of everyday life. It is both therapeutic and empowering. So try setting that time aside, you might surprise yourself with what you discover and what you are capable of.
Do you enjoy doing things alone?