“I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself.” ― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
I love being around people, but I also love being alone. Specifically, I love to travel alone. I hate telling people this because when I do, I am treated like a social outcast. I recently got back from a solo trip from Chicago and people always act surprised when I tell them that I am travelling alone. They look at me in bewilderment after they ask why I’m here, the way that screams ‘What is wrong with you?’ and proceed to ask if I didn’t have any friends that could come with me. I then have to tell them that ‘I want to travel by myself.’ They then say ‘Why?’ again as if once wasn’t enough. These conversations just become a game of running in circles and I now have become irritated with them.
“Cherish your solitude. Take trains by yourself to places you have never been. Sleep out alone under the stars. Learn how to drive a stick shift. Go so far away that you stop being afraid of not coming back. Say no when you don’t want to do something. Say yes if your instincts are strong, even if everyone around you disagrees. Decide whether you want to be liked or admired. Decide if fitting in is more important than finding out what you’re doing here. Believe in kissing.” ― Eve Ensler
I know our society has tricked you into thinking you need a friend, a roommate, or a lover to go and explore that city you always wanted to go to. This is a lie. The truth is that you can go explore all by yourself and when you do beautiful things happen. When I am alone, I am not lonely. I am flooded by curiosity as I watch people bustle around in places I’ve never been before. I go up and talk to strangers whom I never would have talked to otherwise if I had the comforts of someone else with me. I go to restaurants that I want to and eat at my own peace. Most of all I feel the freedom that comes with being alone. The freedom of being able to be my own, capable person wherever I go. This feeling of freedom pushes me to try new things on my own.
“My imagination functions much better when I don’t have to speak to people.” ― Patricia Highsmith
I’m am not saying that being comfortable with being alone happens overnight. It takes practice and courage. For years, there were things that I would want to do, but because the group I was with did not want to do it I missed out on those things.
I finally became tired of that and just started going to things by myself. If you are looking for less dependence on friends or loved ones to try things that they may not want to try, then start with doing small things for yourself. Go to the park alone or sign up for that class that you’ve always had an interest in.
Then take bigger steps such as going on a road trip by yourself or going camping by yourself. I am also not saying that I don’t like being with family and friends. I absolutely do. What I have found though is that solitude is my friend and I have the choice to be happy or miserable when I am on my own. I chose happiness and I encourage you to do the same on your journey of solitude.