Wednesday, February 2, 2011

One is NOT Always the Loneliest Number

Embrace every solo moment
Sometimes it's a blessing in disguise when you don't yet know very many people after moving to a new place. It gives you the opportunity to blend seamlessly into a crowd, observe what's going on around you and enjoy the pleasure of your own company.

Living in a busy city can make for a busy person and it's easy to get wrapped up in the constant stream of activity. I'd almost forgotten what it felt like to wander aimlessly, alone except for my thoughts, until a few recent experiences. They were well-timed reminders that having time to oneself can be just as memorable and necessary an adventure. Whether you're caught up in work or simply need some downtime from school, consider putting aside your reservations and striking out on your own. As I was reminded, you never really know what it might teach you about yourself.

Since I've moved to San Francisco, there have been numerous lineups of apartment appointments, work deadlines and generally trying to find my niche here. It's been an amazing experience and I'm lucky to have made some great connections. I realized about a week ago, though, while sitting alone in a quiet apartment on a Friday night, that I was depriving myself of an essential factor. There I was, not going out to explore the nightlife, simply because I didn't know anyone who I could call or invite along.  Sure, I've made friends since I've moved, but they were all tied up that night and I was on my own. So why was I sitting in that little apartment instead of taking to the streets like I really wanted to?
Me, myself & I - where to next?

It struck me quite suddenly how limiting that was. I thought I'd long passed the point where I was unafraid to be the guest of my own adventures. Wasn't that stipulated in the "contract" of loving to travel? Had I forgotten what it felt like to set out on my own? Most of the exploring I had done up until this point had either been with a friend or a visiting family member, which I loved--but also realized was entirely within my comfort zone. That just wouldn't do, not if I really wanted to make the most of my time in this city.

That being said, I didn't sit in that apartment much longer after my epiphany. The film Black Swan was playing at a local independent theater and I decided I to take myself on a date to see it. It was interesting to see the looks and reactions I got sitting by myself in a theater surrounded by couples on their own dates. As I sipped my wine (another reason I loved this place) and waited for the film to start, I observed the interaction going on around me. As an avid people-watcher with a penchant for writing, I thoroughly enjoyed the moment.

It would seem this rekindling of belief in myself came at the perfect time. I've since been on multiple solo jaunts around the city, re-discovering the pleasure of my own company. From walking silently through the labyrinth at Grace Cathedral to browsing through vintage trinkets in tucked-away shops, I'm gaining a deeper appreciation of my new home. The only family member I had living down in the city also just moved away, and it's inspired me to challenge myself in making new connections.

What is there NOT to be excited about?

Many of you, like myself, may not currently be located in some exotic overseas location, but that doesn't mean there isn't adventure to be found in your own backyard. All you have to do is open your eyes to it. 

There is a particularly wonderful lack of a comfort zone in setting out on your own, and I urge every traveler/wannabe-traveler/or-just-need-some-adventure-in-my-life individual to challenge yourself this way. The results are often unexpected and will change your perspective about what you're capable of doing. I don't know about you, but I believe that's a reality worth striving towards.