The Greatest Fear You Must Conquer

Me, a cocktail, and The Economist hanging out at Bottega Louie in Los Angeles, CA

Imagine heading to a new restaurant that opened down the street. It could be Thai food, poke, BBQ, whatever; it doesn’t matter. You’re armed with a pen and paper, your laptop, headphones, a book or whatever it is you fancy. You pick a great seat outside in the shady corner on a perfect day. Your waiter stops by and asks if anyone will be joining you today. Your reply?

“No, just me.” You are alone.

Does this scare you?

For many people, it does. Perhaps you’re saying to yourself, “Oh I could do that if I wanted to.” Why haven’t you then?

Let’s up the anty a bit. How about a bar? Or what about grabbing your passport and buying one ticket to a place you’ve never been?

Gotcha now, huh?

The most amazing ‘solo’ experience I’ve ever had: Park Güell (by Gaudi) in Barcelona, Spain.

Whether you’re an extrovert or an introvert, or some derivative of the two, there’s a balance that needs to be stuck between human interaction and the lack thereof. However, the majority of people seem to hold the same unfounded fear, regardless of whatever disposition they’re predisposed to. People struggle with solitude. And, in particular, they fear being out in the world with their solitude.

I’m shocked at how many people commend me for my solo boldness but quickly add how they “could NEVER do that” but wish they could.

What’s stopping you?

Here are a few of the obstacles you’ve probably built in your mind:

  • I’d just rather do things with friends. First off, let’s call a spade a spade. This is an avoidance tactic, AKA, an excuse. Nobody is saying you can’t enjoy life with your friends. I’m just saying, allow yourself to step outside of the boxed thinking that you need to have friends present to explore your life.
  • What would people think? You probably won’t see them again and even if you do, does it matter? Happiness comes from cultivating our own sense of self, not from worrying about what criteria the Jones’ are judging everyone else on.
  • I can’t…(insert nonsense here). Whatever it is you think you can’t do, build a bridge and get over it, already. I quite possibly have the worst sense of direction, ever. I can never find the parking lot my car is in and I got lost in Lisbon without GPS at least half of a dozen times. You know what? I always eventually find my car or my Airbnb. Start replacing “I can’t” with “I always find a way.”
  • I would be bored. If you can’t be friends with yourself and entertain yourself, who can you be friends with? Often we keep our reach inside our comfort zone, but consciously stepping outside of it helps show us what we are truly capable of. I challenge you to go out in public and engage in an activity you enjoy by yourself.
  • I would be lonely. This is exactly why this exercise is important. For example, people say they don’t practice yoga because they aren’t naturally flexible. That is exactly why one should practice yoga: to increase their flexibility! Facing this fear head on will keep you from feelings of loneliness. Will it feel uncomfortable? Sure it will, at first. But, like anything else, it gets easier much sooner than you’d think.

Obstacles now dispelled, here are your compelling reasons to go out into the world solo:

  • You’d be surprised at the people you’ll meet when you go out into the world alone. I’ve met the most amazing friends from all over the world when I’ve been alone, and I still keep in contact with them.
  • Getting outside of your comfort zone starts applying to other areas of your life. Once you take a step to commit to yourself and going out into the world solo, the world becomes your oyster. You’ve conquered that unsettled and unfounded fear of loneliness and now nothing can stop you.
  • You’ll learn how to operate independently. Even those who are naturally independent rely on others when they’re with other people. It’s human nature. When it’s all up to you, you are left with no option but to “find a way”.
  • You’ll create breathing room and time to think. We get caught up in routine. We get carried away by the extraneous responsibilities that vie for our attention every day. Hit the pause button and remove yourself so you can give your brain some space.
  • Lastly, not to be morbid, but here’s the unabashed truth: In the end, we all leave this world alone. Taking the time to find your own sense of friendship within yourself will pay dividends for years to come.

Let’s take that last benefit and develop it further. Nothing kills neediness and loneliness quite like a well established, foundational sense of self. And as we know, like any other good relationship, it takes time and effort to develop. So take that trip alone, go out and hike by yourself or just go enjoy your own company at the coffee shop down the street.

With repetition, the uncomfortable becomes familiar and what you think you couldn’t do becomes something you’ve already done.

You won’t be that person who keeps bugging their kids to come visit all the time just because you’re lonely. You won’t be that person who regrets your decision not to have children. You won’t be that person who crumbles if divorce or death comes knocking unexpectedly.

That’s not to say that you’ll be immune and never feel the need to connect with others. That need will simply never have the same control over you anymore.

You will be stronger, more confident, and a better, more well-rounded version of yourself. And this isn’t just a service to yourself, going out into the world solo will indirectly benefit everyone else in your life as well.

So, what’s your next adventure, Party-of-One?

Yes, dear friends, I’ve even gone to see Tiësto at Hakkasan in Las Vegas, NV by myself.

Did you find this valuable or enjoyable? If so, tapping the little heart in the bottom left or sharing this post would mean a lot to me. Thanks for considering! @jsambold

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