Last weekend I grabbed my pup and took off on yet another solo adventure.
Yes, solo. Meaning I put up my own tent, started my own fire, loaded my kayak onto the roof of my car and launched it all by myself.
My friends and family have become accustomed to this behavior from me and it's become a way of life for my wandering soul. It's become my norm.
"Those who fly solo have the strongest wings..."
I fail to remember that to the general public and the judging eye, I am considered a little bit odd.
It was only about ten minutes into my camping trip that I was reminded of this when my camping neighbors found pity on me and invited me over to dinner. They claimed to have "made too much food" but I knew the truth. I was alone. I must be sad. Or lonely. Or maybe they thought I was a serial killer and wanted to scope me out since I was camping so close.
Whatever the reason, I said thank you and politely declined the invitation. But they weren't the only folks to take notice of my party of one status.
"Are you camping by yourself?"
Another neighbor approached with the most heartbreaking look of concern on her face. I explained yes and why and she looked alarmed and offered up the company of her group if I wanted it. Again, I politely declined and awkwardly made my way back to my tent.
I could feel eyes on me throughout the evening, which actually gave me anxiety. I had driven two and a half hours toward the Canadian Border to camp in the woods ALONE. To find some peace and quiet. Tranquility. I was HAPPY alone. Why did they look at me like I was a rejected loser?
Because being alone IS WEIRD TO SOCIETY.
"Silence isn't empty, it's full of answers."
We've been taught to couple up. To have our happiness validated by another person.
I observed a friend recently go as far as creating a fake boyfriend on Facebook and even change her relationship status to show the world she wasn't alone. I see regular posts in my newsfeeds proclaiming loneliness or begging people to accompany them to things they want to do. Then when they can't find the accompaniment, they don't go and the vicious cycle continues.
Meanwhile, I'm looking at these people the way society looks at me - "WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?"
GO BE ALONE. Can't find someone to take that trip with you? GO ALONE? Nobody wants to hike? GO ALONE. Want to try that new restaurant in town but everyone is busy? GO ALONE! It won't kill you, I promise. In your solo explorations you will be judged. But who cares? You are going to find a sense of self that you never thought imaginable. You are going to learn what you love, what irritates you. You are going to explore the deepest depths of your brain and start forming your own opinions and creating your own ideas.
When we are with someone all the time you don't get to utilize those things. You depend on them whether you admit it or not. If I had brought someone camping with me I would have allowed them to assist in setting up my tent, starting my fire and loading and launching my kayak - and my sense of accomplishment and pride wouldn't have been there. I would have taken into consideration what they wanted to do on the trip and possibly veered away from what I had truly wanted in order to please them. I wouldn't have been able to be 100% me, howling at the full moon with my dog while eating a sausage on a stick with zero shame.
"Alone, by herself she built the kingdom that she wanted."
My being alone doesn't make me the weird one. In my opinion, the ones needing someone else in order to be happy are the ones who are strange. Because why would you depend on another to find something that you had within you all along? Happiness starts with YOU. And until you can love yourself and find that joy with your own solitude, you will never find it with someone else.
So next time you see me alone in the woods or at that table in the cafe...no need to ask if I'm alright. I'm likely exactly where I want to be, keeping the company I hold most dear to my heart.