I used to be afraid of being alone. Not in terms of things it’s “normal” to do alone like shopping, getting coffee, or running errands. But things like going out to eat or going to a movie by myself.
I remember the first time I went to a sit-down restaurant for dinner by myself. I was traveling for work in San Francisco and my boss had recommended a restaurant for me to eat at (she wasn’t traveling with me). The restaurant looked cool and had an awesome menu, so I decided to swallow my fear and go for it. I felt awkward and like everyone was thinking Why is she eating by herself? Does she not have any friends? This poor girl. But I persevered through my nerves and tried not to listen to the voice in the back of my head. I successfully had dinner and dessert by myself at the restaurant, and I enjoyed it too.
Now, I didn’t come out of that experience loving eating alone at a restaurant, but I learned that I could do it and it wasn’t the end of the world. In fact, I’d do it a few more times over the years when I was traveling by myself and wanting to try a new restaurant. After all, eating alone in my hotel room would be lonelier. People watching, anyone?
So yesterday I took another plunge and did something I’ve never done before: I rode my bicycle alone. I bought myself a new road bicycle for my birthday and I really wanted to ride it before we head out on vacation. Jon already plans Sunday morning and he couldn’t go with me, but he told me I should still go for a ride if I wanted to… So I did.
I realize that cycling is a solo sport, but for me it’s never been one. I enjoy getting on the trail with a friend, chatting with them along our journey, clearing my head, and disconnecting from the digital world (no texting and cycling!). So this notion of cycling alone was foreign to me. Since I am an only child my parents were very protective of me and would never let me ride my bike by myself. For them it was too dangerous for a young female to do alone, and after years of always needing a friend or family member to go with me, I guess you could say that was ingrained in me. Jon’s suggestion at still going left me kind of dumbfounded… I guess I could go ride the bike myself. I’m a 29-year old woman after all and it’s a bright, sunny morning, so there’s no reason I shouldn’t do this.
I put on my cycling gear (padded shorts are a must!) and pulled out my new bicycle and hopped on the trail for a quick 20-mile ride. It was so nice to get out on the trail, break in my new bike, and enjoy the outdoors that all of my fears of being alone were washed away. Just like eating by myself at a restaurant many years ago, the idea had caused me nervousness but once I was there in the moment, there was no need to be scared or worried. No matter what your “it” is that you’re afraid of doing by yourself, don’t let fear stop you.