Don't wait for others to do things with you

Go alone instead of not going at all

Happy Sunday friends and family, and thank you for opening this week’s #TheLifeofJLOWE newsletter! 🥰

Last week, we talked about how to appreciate the beauty of being alone and I mentioned something that I thought warranted a newsletter article of its own. I talked about the power of being alone not just on a walk or in personal meditation, but in spaces where you normally wouldn’t be alone. 👥

Independence as a means to growth

In nature, we see over and over again how once animals reach a certain stage of life, they are forced to become independent and tackle life on their own. 🪺

We see birds leaving the nest to learn how to fly, penguins and other sea creatures born on land making their way into the ocean to learn to swim or even many land mammals (for example, lions 🦁) go off on their own to become independent to learn to hunt for prey.

Humans fundamentally are really no different, save for the fact that we live in a large and well-interconnected global society. 🤳🏻 On a very natural level, humans also have to be independent at some point to learn the things that we need to survive.

Of course, it’s not hunting and gathering in a primitive way anymore, but for our social development, it’s so important to be able to do things on your own and to be able to take care of yourself in any scenario you find yourself in.

Don’t wait for others to do things with you

Last weekend, I went to a wheel-throwing pottery class by myself. I had done a pottery class once before with one of my friends during college, but I knew since then that I wanted to re-explore the process. I just hadn’t had the opportunity as yet. 🏺

Then, last Friday night, I was lying on the couch watching TV when I got an ad on Instagram for a pottery class that was happening the next day. I hadn’t made any plans for the weekend yet, so I thought to myself, “hey, why not?” 💡

Of course, my first thought was to invite a friend, but as I was signing up, I got put on the waitlist. A few minutes later, I got a text message saying that I had gotten off the waitlist but the class was now full and I got the last spot. So although I had intended to go alone, now I was for sure going alone. 🧍‍♂️

And so I went on a solo date, and it was a great experience to meet new people and do something fun with total strangers for 4 hours. 👻

It takes time, but also takes courage

I’m no stranger to doing things on my own, but I’m also not an expert or completely comfortable with it yet either. However, every time that I do an activity like that on my own, I find that it forces me way out of my comfort zone and really forces me to exercise my social skills.

I definitely have to be in the right headspace to meet new people and I have to think about how to introduce myself. As a result, I get to re-explore my approach to that thought process every once in a while.

When I do things like that on my own, I’m throwing myself into the “wild” and “jumping out of the nest” so that I can become comfortable with the uncomfortable. It helps me to learn how to communicate better with new people and really keep an open mind when I meet people too.

For example, there were people from Switzerland, France, Venezuela, Peru and Miami all in my pottery class, so with me being from Jamaica too, we had such a wide variety of backgrounds and were all just playing with clay together. We were able to bond over that shared human experience of moulding clay and we laughed and joked together when our clay bowls would collapse.

Doing something like a pottery class - an individual activity in a group setting - is a great way to try out doing things on your own! ☺️

Do it for the experience of doing it alone

To get to the point where I’m comfortable enough to even think about going to a pottery class by myself took years to build up that confidence. I really started small by eating lunch by myself at cafes while studying during high school, then gradually worked up to eating at restaurants alone or even spending a day at the mall alone.

I’ve become comfortable with being alone and enjoying my own company in small experiences like those that I’ve intentionally put myself in, and so I’ve learnt how to navigate those spaces on my own and even be more comfortable in those spaces when I’m there with people too.

Places feel more familiar when experienced alone

In fact, funnily enough, places somehow become so much more familiar and memories of places become much more ingrained in my mind when I experience them alone. I suppose it’s because when I go alone, the new environment I experience includes everything - the people, the sights, the sounds, smells and everything about it - it’s all a new sensory experience so my senses are heightened and more acutely aware of what’s going on around me.

Or maybe that’s that animalistic survival instinct that we learn by being alone. Because I’m in the new environment by myself, I automatically know I have to fend for myself so I become hyper-aware of what’s going on around me on a sub-conscious level so that I can protect myself. As a result, my experience of the place is slightly enhanced by that naturally heightened awareness.

I think it’s also that my immediate environment and experience of the place aren’t influenced by the presence of something or someone familiar, so I’m able to better remember the place as it is with all that it has to offer.

Side Note:

In addition to all of the personal growth that you experience through being in new spaces alone, you also begin to learn how to navigate the dangers of society. You’ll learn to look at the seat you were sitting in after you get up and walk away, or you’ll learn to zip up your backpack a certain way to make it harder to be robbed. You’ll learn how to protect yourself in small ways that we often take for granted if you’re used to going everywhere with someone else to look out for you.

Conclusion

Last week, I challenged you all to be your own best friend. This week my challenge is the same. But go somewhere new by yourself and engage in a group activity with new people.

Experience a place without anything or anyone familiar around you, and see what I mean when I say that it’s a different experience.

I’m by no means saying to do everything alone. As I’ve said many times, I love people and I love doing things with my friends and family.

But there’s a growth moment to be found in doing things alone, and there’s also a beauty to the experience that comes with a newfound familiarity of a new place. There’s a beauty to experiencing that feeling of discovery on your own.

Do something alone just to try it. Just to feel how uncomfortable it is. Do it just so that you can say that you’ve done it. Maybe you’ll hate it, or maybe you’ll love it, but at the end of it, you’ll have grown from the experience because you did it alone.

Forcing yourself to navigate spaces alone will teach you a lot about yourself and it can help you to reflect on who you are and how you’ll react or behave in those situations too.

And guess what?

If you’re shy of doing it, that’s all the more reason to give it a try. 😉

Until next Sunday,
Justin

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