It’s hard to write something about how amazing doing shit on your own is without sounding preachy and/or sad. That’s a reality. It always seems to devolve into a “love yourself before you can love others” sort of situation, and while that’s all very good and true, it suggests that anyone seeking to enjoy (or already enjoying) time spent with only themselves is trying to find a way out of it. To that, I say nah.
In Wild, an Oscar season favorite based on Cheryl Strayed’s autobiography of the same name, a torn-up woman “finds herself” by hiking 1,100 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail on her own. This isn’t grabbing a burrito by yourself or going to see a movie solo about a torn-up woman who hikes 1,100 miles of the PCT alone. Strayed by and large did her own thing in the wilderness for 94 days in the summer of 1995, giving new meaning to the term “really out here.”
We’re living in a world (or more specifically, a time) where everything good is a shared experience. Fire up Facebook or Twitter or Snapchat or Instagram or Vine and check out what all the people you know are doing, and what plenty of people you don’t know are doing too. It’s awesome, because being connected to people you like is awesome, but it also creates a fallacy that the only way to enjoy your life is to look like you’re enjoying it via tons of photos and videos and statuses tagged with smiling friends and endless brunches.
I’m not here to ridicule brunch. Brunch is a goddamn treasure. If you want to get it, get it however it suits you, and post that Vine of your rising mimosa bubbles without a moment’s hesitation. What I would like to advocate, however, is that it’s real empowering (well, I did warn about preachiness) to take breaks from the endless cycle of having fun, making sure you look like you’re having fun, and making sure the people you’re with are having fun.
Granted, Strayed didn’t go on a 1,100 solo hike because she was sick of her friends complaining about nothing at brunch every Saturday from 12-3pm. She had suffered through her mother’s death, a divorce, heroin addiction, and plenty more troubles to fill up five lifetimes. So not everyone needs to immerse themselves in wilderness for three months to get a sense of who they are and enjoy the perks of being alone. Having said that, the defining feature of such a trip is how uncomfortable the idea and executing it can be. That’s really what matters.
Capturing that same vibe, one of challenging yourself to be uncomfortably alone, then eventually comfortably alone, is what doing shit on your own is all about. Go to a movie and sit by yourself in the middle of an aisle—no one is watching you. Buy a cheap ticket to a random city for a weekend. Go try a food that initially sounds disgusting to your friends. It’ll all make you enjoy the next Saturday brunch that much more. Plus you might end up with some good stories to tell that no one else at the table will be able to boast.