As a single, childless, dog-less (or cat-less as some of my friends like to joke!) woman in my thirties, I often struggle to get company when I want to socialise or go out somewhere at short notice. All my close friends are paired up and have commitments that can't just be dropped last minute. A lot of people are struggling in the current economic situation to make ends meet so spare cash is not always readily available, while others are already fully booked weeks in advance! I totally understand that and in recent years have realised that things have changed and that I need to adapt if I want to have some sort of life aside from chilling at home, reading, watching EastEnders or spamming my friends on Facebook with videos of surfing animals!
It started a few years ago. I was going through what is now known as a quarter-life crisis. Long, boring story short, I decided I need to get away for a couple of days on my own. I was apprehensive about taking a solo trip, I had never done anything like that before but I figured, "hey, I'm only going to London for Christ's sake not outer flipping Mongolia!" I was pretty confident that I would survive! And survive I did. The only time I had a mild crisis of confidence was during my last few hours in the big smoke. I got lost big time. Back then SatNav's hadn't been invented and I was following directions from a printout I had gotten from the AA Road-Watch website at one of those "one-stop shop" internet cafes. You know, one of those that triples as a newsagents/mobile phone repair shop/ring folks abroad-type places. Three birds, one stone, I love them! Anyhoo, I managed to find my way out of the, let's be blunt, total mind fuck that is driving through the centre of the capital on any given day and lived to tell the tale. I had made it back home feeling refreshed (and yes people do tend to find it bizarre that I find a trip to London relaxing before you say it! But that's another story) and ready to tackle my problems head on.
What was interesting, however, was to watch how people responded when I told them I had gone away on my own. Some people thought it unusual but if it helped then decided it's cool. Others looked genuinely perplexed at the prospect of this and a very small number were indifferent to the idea. A couple of years later I did the same thing. This time though I just wanted to go and explore London some more. There was no dramatic emotional scenario to motivate this particular visit, I just went and did some stuff I had always wanted to do, it was fabulous and then I came home. I also found my way out of the abyss without any orientation issues this time. Result! Again I got a few somewhat confused glances by my decision though.
There appears to be a bit of a social stigma around people who "go it alone" when it comes to how they choose to spend their free time. Sometimes I wonder if that's just my perception and actually nobody is judging me apart from myself? I think this is probably true on some occasions but I have also had comments such as, "wow, I don't think I would be able to something like that" or "crikey, that's brave" so there is definitely an issue for some. I find this thought process quite sad. Sad in the respect that if you decide you're going to wait for company every-time you want to do something you enjoy in life then there's a good chance you're going to miss out on a lot of cool experiences. I have been to the cinema a number of times on my own or to the theatre to see a great show that I've been itching to see in forever! Once you settle in and get past that initial strange feeling of being alone the first time you try it then it starts to feel pretty fab. Liberating you might say! You could also argue that not everyone is into the same things as you and so by doing some things by yourself sometimes it saves your pals wanting to cut their own legs off so that they don't have to spend the best part of an afternoon wandering around the latest new and amazing (well to you of course!) art exhibition. The craziest thing is if you take a look around, you will probably see others, also on their lonesome, having a bloody good time!
I'm not saying that having your family and/or your mates by your side at these things isn't a good thing. Of course it is! Some of the most amazing experiences of my life have been shared by those that I hold closest to my heart and I wouldn't have wanted it any other way but what I am saying is that you can also have said awesome times when it's just little old you rocking it by yourself! You never know, you might also be lucky enough to meet some other like-minded future wing-mates to do this stuff with. Or not, if that's how you roll.
First published on http://www.littlemissgeeke.wordpress.com