Hey there, I'm Ashley- a certified extrovert.
Not only do I love talking to people, hanging out with people, and reading about people; I also do it for a living.
So it may come as a surprise to you, but I like to do things alone!
Let me explain: Once a week, my husband and I have a separate "night off." This means on Thursdays, after work, I have no responsibilities. I don't worry about dinner, I don't give the toddler a bath, I don't feed the dogs, I don't do the bedtime routine. I do whatever I want!
Most Thursdays, I make plans with friends. But every now and then, I either choose to have a solitary evening or it happens by chance. This means that I have gotten really good at eating alone at restaurants, seeing movies alone, and going to concerts or events alone.
Next surprise! Being alone at events is uncomfortable, even for me.
Something about being alone in settings where people often do things in groups is inherently uncomfortable. Whether the perceived "looks" are real or imagined, I don't know. My social awareness seems heightened. I can hear everyone's conversations. I imagine what they might think of me. Suddenly, I pay attention to everything around me, and frankly, I don't like it.
But here's the thing: I deserve to do things for me. I deserve to eat at restaurants that only I like. I deserve to see movies only I want to see. I deserve to do activities that I want to do, EVEN alone.
So last Thursday, I went to BINGO.
I walked in, and I needed help choosing what package I wanted.
I needed directions to the space to buy a dauber.
I messed up two separate games and a very nice woman lended me a different color dauber to get it right.
The same woman explained how the hell to play the pull-tabs, which are like mini games.
Despite my love of traditional bingo, there were several things I DID NOT KNOW.
And I hate that as much as the next guy.
But at the end of the night, I walked away happy. Four hours of time with a simple game and my own thoughts was soothing for me.
Doing things I love, even alone, can be both challenging and fulfilling.
If you're tired of avoiding the world because you have no one to experience it with, here are my tips for getting out there:
Plan ahead: find a local restaurant you're excited for, a special interest you want to dive deeper into, or shopping you want to do. Planning ahead will make sure you don't have pesky surprises, like an early closing time, that will deflate your courage.
Bring a comfort item: Mine is my Kindle. Maybe it's a fidget, your phone, or jewelry. Turns out, we're all giant toddlers and a comfort item will help you feel less anxious.
Put it on the calendar and tell people. This looks like me booking a movie, and when people ask what I'm doing this weekend, I tell them! Just like other goals, speaking about your goal of solo activities will help with accountability.
Treat yourself like a puppy. You know what we do when puppies experience or do something new? WE HYPE THEM UP. Be proud of yourself! Don't scold yourself if you're scared or uncomfortable. We are all about positive psychology around here.
Memorize this sentence: "I am not lonely, I am alone." There is a difference! You are not a sad, lonely person that has no one to love them. You are a badass solo adventurer with a commitment to living your best life!
And that's it: Get out there, be uncomfortable, and keep trying. You've got this!