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Photo credit: EUTAH MIZUSHIMA VIA UNSPLASH

The joys of solitude and going on solo adventures

The best company might sometimes just be yourself.

Sarah Chan
Sarah Chan

Likes museum trips and is sometimes artsy. Can be found in pattern prints.


Published: 18 January 2021, 5:32 PM

If you were to have asked me a few years ago if I ever wanted to go out alone I would probably have said no.

Growing up, I have always been too shy to do “big” things alone – like having a nice meal by myself or attending events. I found it daunting and was always inclined to have company around.

Surprisingly, I am not alone in thinking this way. As I spoke to close friends, most of us had in fact had similar fears as young, self-conscious teens who were constantly afraid of being judged and labelled as a “loner”.

But that was younger me. As I grew older, I’ve learnt to step out of my comfort zone and be independent. And my experiences have taught me that there is joy in solitude, and that sometimes the best company might just be yourself.

Here’s what I’ve learnt from embracing the experience of going out on solo adventures.

It’s okay to take things at my own pace

One of my favourite places to visit are museums. Perhaps it is the reflective experience or simply because of the serenity of the place that I often prefer to spend more time here than my friends do.

Entranced by each exhibit, I am usually trailing behind the group and having to locate them via text message later on. I was once even told that I walk too slowly.

While I shrugged off the comment, I couldn’t help but feel the pressure of keeping up even when I didn’t feel like it.

It is no secret that this is a fast paced society, and we’re always feeling the need to strive and constantly be at our best. But sometimes, we just need to slow down.

Going on solo adventures have given me the freedom to spend as much time as I wish on the things I enjoy.

Wandering around the museum by myself gave me a chance to immerse in my own thoughts and engage with my senses as I focused more keenly on the art around me instead.

The quiet environment was perfect for such solo adventures and museum trips alone became my escape from the bustle around me. I spent more time learning about the arts and paid less attention to what I feared others would have thought about me.

 

Being alone gives you time to reflect and engage with your own thoughts, which is something that is hard to come by in our ever-connected and busy world. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/SARAH CHAN

 

While it is fun to catch up with friends and socialise, the absence of social interactions during a solo adventure meant I had one less distraction and I started to appreciate my surroundings better.

In fact, this made me realise the importance of prioritising my own interests instead of constantly feeling that dreaded FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) from being away from my usual social circle.

Being less dependent on others for joy

As you grow older, you start to lead a different life from others and your schedules or interests just don’t seem to match with your friends as much as it once did back in school. Although my friends and I are still just as close, our meetings are usually few and far between.

I’ve lost count on the number of times my dinner requests were declined because of work commitments or school – something that I am guilty of too – and plans postponed indefinitely until someone remembered to ask.

It may feel like a hard pill to swallow but learning to go on solo adventures has taught me to be less dependent on my friends for joy and company. That also made me less frustrated from waiting for all the right factors to fall in place just to do something I wanted.

When a popular bookstore chain was having their closing down sale one weekend, I took the chance and travelled downtown immediately. If I had waited for my friends to tag along, I might just have missed it.

 

On occasions where I was feeling adventurous, I sought recommendations from friends for places to discover around Singapore, besides my usual hangouts. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/SARAH CHAN

 

This got me started on solo visits to my favourite book stores at nearby malls.

Intrigued by my new discoveries, I slowly gained confidence in the choices I was making – thinking “hey, I just did that by myself”. Soon, I was going on spontaneous trips around the island to places I had rarely visited before.

And beyond not feeling the burden of taking up someone else’s time for all of my unplanned and ever-changing solo outings, I also learnt that I did not have to constantly seek validation from anyone to do something I wanted.

Overcoming the awkwardness of new opportunities

I was on a concert spree in 2019 and among the artists I saw was K-pop group The Boyz who held their first fan meeting in Singapore that year.

I’ve always assumed that concerts are best enjoyed with company, but none of my friends were interested in this one, even though the prices were attractive.

Although I had already done a few solo outings by this time, going to a concert alone was a whole new level, and I was afraid of judgement, loneliness and awkwardness.

Yet I decided to purchase a ticket for myself, and found it was unexpectedly one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Being outside of your comfort zone leaves little time for overthinking. Deciding to make the best of the situation amidst the confusing flurry of activities on the actual day, I turned to my neighbours in line for help and chatted with fellow fans to pass the time – something I would have been too afraid to do previously.

 

It was one of the last concerts I attended before the pandemic and I have no regrets going for the event alone. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/SARAH CHAN

 

In a pleasant turn of events, I made new friends whom I still keep in contact with today. I was even luckier to have met my idols through a hi-touch event and won an autographed poster, which was a rare stroke of luck I did not foresee.

I was glad that the fanmeeting was among the last few events I went to before 2020. Just a few months after, member Hwall announced his departure from the group – meaning the event had been my last opportunity to catch them live in their original 12 member lineup.

Instead of avoiding the fear of judgement, going to the concert alone had pushed me to face my fears head-on and given me the courage to be bolder in my choices.

Dealing with unfamiliar situations might seem intimidating at first, but you only live once and there are too many opportunities out there that are simply not worth depriving yourself of just because you are afraid of the awkwardness of going alone.

Our social support plays an important role for our mental health and well-being. Similarly, purposeful solitude can be just as empowering when we establish a healthy relationship with ourselves and realise that there is value in being content with doing things alone.

It may seem like an awkward and uncomfortable thing to do at first. But only when you embrace the discomfort of being alone, that you might soon realise it isn’t as bad as you think.


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