The Twenty-Something Series: It's okay to do things by yourself

January 22, 2018
Doing things by yourself can seem scary and intimidating - but it made such a huge difference to my life. Find out why and how in this post.

Some people are used to doing things on their own. Whether that's backpacking around Europe for three months or just going shopping. For others, it can be really intimidating - and I've had mixed feelings about doing things by myself.

But quite honestly? Weird as I might have felt at first about doing things alone, it's made a huge difference to my life.

I'm a reasonably introverted sort of person. I love seeing my friends, I prefer to go into the office than to work from home so I get some social contact... but I'm also very happy in my own company, and am perfectly happy to spend an evening in by myself. So the social (or not-social, rather) aspect of doing things by yourself didn't bother me much.

I had a weird sort of reason to start doing things by myself - it was because of my books. 

My parents would come with me to events when I started out, and then would come to some of my bigger events.

(Oh, doing a panel at YALC at London Comic Con? Well, my dad just had to chaperone me there. Nothing to do with the fact Carrie Fisher and Stan Lee were around that year. Not at all. Invited out to Canada? Can't possibly do that alone, must have parental chaperones there, too... and maybe a trip to Niagara Falls, while we're there?)

But I'd be travelling up to London alone, then - or other places, sometimes. I'd go meet my agent or the film guys from Komixx or whatever I was there for. I'd get around by myself (by some miracle, the Tube finally made sense) and I'd go grab dinner by myself.

My mum always asked if I didn't feel weird, going to dinner on my own. Thought it would be lonely. I never found it that way. I could watch something on my iPad or scroll through my phone, if I wanted, but it never bothered me. I think the first time might have felt strange, but now it's not even a consideration. I don't even blink at the prospect that I can't have some company for dinner. 

(Although it is nice when I've got friends around for that. I'm not a total hermit.)

Now, I'm glad I had that experience, because more recently I've had no choice but to go to dinner on my own. I've been working out in Germany for a while over the last few months with my job, and as the only person who's not already living in Germany, I'm in the hotel by myself and going to dinner on my own every night. It still doesn't bother me.

Speaking of these trips to Germany - it's the first time I've travelled abroad alone, too. 

Up until last October, I'd never been on holiday or out of the country unless I was with family or friends. My parents came to Canada with me when I visited Wattpad. My dad came to Cape Town with me for the week I spent watching my movie being filmed. Really, I'd never travelled much more than between Exeter or London by myself.

Having to go to Germany was exciting, sure, but there was still a challenge in it. I'd not been in an airport by myself before. I didn't know the language at all, so learnt some before I went - I wouldn't have anybody else to rely on when I was there to help me out if I got stuck ordering a taxi or checking in. 

I'd do things by myself at university, too. I'd go shopping by myself, I'd go and grab a coffee on my own. Smaller, simpler things, but still things I did by myself.

One thing I've really taken away from doing things by myself is that it's a huge confidence boost.

It's made such a difference to my life. 

When I had the chance to go to Germany for this project, it was never even a concern that I might be lonely out there, or that I couldn't go on my own, without other colleagues going too. Whenever I've had to travel to events or for work, I've never worried about going by myself and having to be totally alone.

When I took this job and found out my first placement would be in Durham, 300 miles from home and away from literally everyone and everything I knew, where I'd have to live alone for the first time ever, the fact that I'd be on my own was never a concern. Where to live, the route to work, where I'd get my Amazon orders because my letterbox is so small - yes, they were all concerns. But being by myself? 

If I'd been worried about that, it might've stopped me taking the job. It might've stopped me doing so much.

The obvious thing is to say that doing things by myself made me more independent (which it did, of course it did) but that's not what I'm getting at here. It was my confidence that skyrocketed.

And face it - when you see a fellow twenty-something out on their own do you think, God, how sad and lonely their life must be, what a loser they are, or do you barely think about it? (Or, think how cool they are for being so independent?)

Nobody thinks you're a lonely loser for going out by yourself. 

Before I wrap up this post, I'm going to share a few things you can do by yourself to help build your own confidence.

  • Start out easy, and wander around the shops in town by yourself. If this is something you're not used to doing, try it out.
  • Grab a book and head to a café - especially if you live with people. Nobody will disturb you in a coffee shop, especially if you're reading (except maybe to ask, 'Sorry, is this seat taken?'). Settle in for a little bit for some easy alone time.
  • Take yourself out to dinner. Spoiler alert: nobody thinks you look like a loser.
  • Head to the cinema on your own. It's not like you can have a conversation with your mates while you're there anyway, right? And again: nobody thinks you look like a loser. They're all just there to see the movie too.
  • Travelling on your own might sound daunting, and I'm not suggesting you book a week at the seaside by yourself. But maybe exploring a new city for a day, or even just getting a train somewhere to meet your friend could be an option.
  • Go to a concert! Not got anyone who wants to see that band with you? It's cool: the concert will be full of people who want to see the band you can share the experience with. Again, it's not always a place to talk anyway. One of my best friends has done this; she messaged me the first time to say she feels weird and awkward about it before the concert starts, but she had such a great time and has done it again since.
Good luck - and have fun!

Do you find that doing things alone helps build your confidence? What kind of things? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!

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