I’ve always hated being alone. Whenever I am alone I usually have too much to thing about, with nothing to dam my flowing thoughts. And with my thoughts racing, sometimes a slight paranoia sets in and I begin to think of worse case scenario for just about everything.
Lately, however, I have been bitten by the wanderlust bug and I started to realize that if I’m not ok going anywhere alone that I may never get to see places I want to see or experience things that I want to experience. How could I go and teach English in a foreign country if I’m afraid to embrace the adventure? Well the answer is that I couldn’t.
This week my little sister had her college orientation at UC Santa Barbara and she invited me to make the drive with her and two of her friends who are also attending. Well this particular orientation is two days long, more than 12 hours the first day and about 8 hours the second day. It was the perfect opportunity to get some quality time doing things by myself.
I started my first day by treating myself to an amazing breakfast that consisted of a caramel latte from The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, and a Backyard Bowl. I laid in the hotel room, watched Spongebob and ate my breakfast before deciding to get ready and go exploring.
Of course since I was in a beach town, I planned to find the nearest beach and relax for a while. Just two miles away I found a beach that was pretty much empty. Maybe because it was a Thursday. Or maybe because it was only 11 a.m. Either way I put down my towel and spent the next hour or so alone, just staring at the ocean. I didn’t feel awkward or lonely, and that was a huge step for me. I usually feel like I need someone to always be there. Someone to talk to, or just generally someone to sit by, so that I don’t look like a weirdo.
Next I went and found this lovely little vinyl record shop called Warbler’s, which was just a few streets away from the main shopping street in Santa Barbara. I spent more than an hour browsing the shop, and left with five more vinyls for my collection. I call it a success.
The part I was most worried about was next. It was lunch time, and I had never eaten at a restaurant alone. I had two options. I could have gotten fast food and gone back to the hotel to eat alone in privacy, or I could be brave and get a table by myself to see what the experience was like. I took the second option, grabbed a book and got myself a table at Denny’s. It wasn’t much different from eating with people, I just felt like the waitress might have had a little pitty on me. She never let my iced tea get empty and continually told me to stay as long as I liked. Overall it was a good experience, and although I probably won’t do it on a regular basis, I am glad that I tried it out.
And to conclude my day-date with myself I went to see a movie. This experience was something that I had been deeply curious about, yet completely terrified by. I will admit that a small portion of that terror came slightly in the wake of the Colorado movie theater shooting a week or so ago. I walked into an empty theater, trying imagine what those poor people went through, and just how scary it must have been in a setting like that. I noticed that I paid more attention to the seat I chose, and I was painfully aware of the exit doors. However, I decided to not see “The Dark Knight Rises.” I really want to see it, but for some reason I just haven’t felt right about seeing it, and I was not going to see if for my first movie alone. I decided on “Magic Mike.” And it was a good choice.
As I thought about it more, I remembered this quote by Olivia Wilde -“But I think it’s very healthy to spend time alone. You need to know how to be alone and not be defined by another person.”
Overall my day alone was a good choice. You should try it.