On Doing Stuff Alone

A while ago, I got it into my mind that it might be fun to do an activity by myself. Being a natural extrovert, I’m one of those people who dislikes going places alone. But ever since I graduated college and started working, I’ve started really appreciating the little moments I have for myself – and so I wanted to take it a step further. I subsequently decided to sign up for a whitewater rafting trip.

I’ve always wanted to try whitewater rafting, but never thought I’d sign up for it alone. Since each boat usually has 4-6 people, it definitely seemed like one of those activities that you would sign up for with a group of friends. So as the date approached, I found myself feeling wary about going alone and trying to find other people who would go with me. As fate would have it, nobody could/wanted to go – and so I ended up going by myself.

I got to the bus stop and realized, with a sinking feeling, that nobody else was there alone. When I showed my ticket to the guide, he said, “You and her?” pointing to a random girl behind me. I shook my head no: “Nope, just me.” I sat through the bus ride by myself and started wondering if I had been crazy to go on this trip alone!

Once at the rafting site, we milled around waiting for yet another set of buses to take us closer to the river. I wandered by myself for a bit, trying to look – and feel – nonchalant about the fact that I was there by myself. I was relieved to finally board the second set of buses and sat next to a stranger who was part of a group of 5. I wondered if my seatmate’s group thought it was weird that I had just come on alone, but quickly brushed it off.

I ended up on a boat with three other couples – two of the couples were friends, and the other one was separate. And you know what? I had so much fun. Once on the boat, it wasn’t a huge deal if you went with someone or not because conversation was light and easy. The most difficult part for me was probably lunchtime, because the group of four and the other couple separated from each other – and, feeling bad that I had already tagged along for the boat ride, I didn’t want to attach myself to either party. So I stood alone, in the vicinity of my boatmates but not with them – and just ate by myself. In retrospect, it probably wouldn’t have been a big deal to stand with the group and make conversation.

The day overall was such a blast. The weather was absolutely perfect. Our boat ended up working together well enough that one of the guides told us to hang back after lunch so he could show us some more “advanced” routes. And I learned so much about myself.

If I had to describe the day in one word, I would probably use the word “empowering.” I felt empowered that I could go on this activity by myself and feel okay doing it – I even went out to dinner alone afterwards to continue my “alone day.” The biggest takeaway I have from the experience is an old adage: it really doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. Any time I worried if I looked weird or awkward, I realized that even if someone was judging me, 1) I would probably never see them again, and 2) I actually felt internally confident so I didn’t really care. I learned to feel rooted in myself, knowing that I had CHOSEN to do the trip alone (well, if you ignore the part where I panicked/backtracked and tried to find friends). I realized that I was secure (and lucky) in knowing that I have family and friends whom I love dearly and that being alone at this one event meant nothing about me.

I really recommend doing an “alone day” – it’s so much fun and it’s nice to enjoy your own company. I wish I’d brought a book to read during dinner (and my phone ran out of battery) but even at dinner, it was so empowering to be confident that I had chosen to be there, alone, eating dinner – and I was happy to be doing so.

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