“Comfort—the Enemy of Progress”
Have you ever envied the people in the grocery store who are shopping by themselves? They don’t need to consult someone about which products to purchase; instead, they read labels and carry on. What about those who work out in the gym without a buddy? They don’t care who may be watching them. They don’t care if they look “funny.”
If you are reading this, especially if you are fresh out of high school, and have experienced anxiety trying to accomplish these tasks, you are not the only one. Even if they’re normal and a part of everyday life, lots of people feel strange going out by themselves.
Maybe it doesn’t bother you in the slightest to check off your to-do list alone. If you weren’t given any other choice, you might have shrugged it off and gone about your business. If you were taught how to take care of yourself, you might have grown the confidence to “adult.” Either way, I’m sure there is a reason you have adapted and managed to overcome what some of us see as “obstacles.” Major kudos to you! You have certainly grasped what it means to be independent.
So what does being single have to do with independence? I’m very glad you asked. Let me share a brief story with you:
I went away to college for four years, and I got a taste of what it was like to live out from under my parents’ roof. But for half of my college experience, I had a boyfriend who drove me places and shopped, cooked, and attended events with me. Essentially, he became my co-dependent in place of my parents.
When we broke things off, I was a bit lost. I didn’t even have my license yet. I hadn’t learned to cook while growing up (and am still learning today), so I simply avoided the kitchen altogether. I was embarrassed to attend a campus gathering alone even if it was a movie in the auditorium. My point is that someone had always been beside me to take care of me; suddenly, I was stuck to “fend for myself.” It can be overwhelming at first, but it doesn’t have to stay that way.
Singleness sets you up for independent success. You can enjoy every moment of life even when another person isn’t there. You can live by yourself and function. You can grow up, “adult,” and embrace whatever the future holds. By realizing these truths, you are more equipped to take on responsibility for your life and choices. This is important because, once you are in a relationship, you are also responsible for another person to an extent. If you get married and have kids, you become responsible for those lives in addition to your own.
“Becca, I can definitely relate to all of this, but how do I actually practice being a confident single person?”
As a single person, there are numerous opportunities to step out of your comfort zone and face the world, which can ultimately generate confidence. For instance, I decided to take myself on a date one day. I know you might think that sounds silly, but it was one of the most exhilarating days.
I treated myself to lunch, and I took myself to a movie. When I ate, I chose a table for two and watched the world around me while I savored my Chick-Fil-A nuggets. In the theater, I sat on the very top row in the very middle seat and enjoyed every second of watching P.T. Barnum chase his dreams in The Greatest Showman.
Sure, it may be intimidating to eat by yourself or see a movie in a big theater without company, but it helps you become acquainted with what it’s like to enjoy the single life in a less “scary” way. To my surprise, rather than feeling lonely on my solo outing, I felt so invigorated. It boosted my confidence.
I had left my normal, comfortable routine and taken on what seemed like an anxiety attack waiting to happen. If I can go out to lunch and a movie, I can go to the grocery store and gym. There’s no huge difference—not really. Besides, in the words of P.T. Barnum, “Comfort [is] the enemy of progress.”
Ultimately, making progress is a matter of setting personal targets and staying focused. An example is the aforementioned goal I set in my junior year of college—driving. I had my permit, and my mom had offered to lend me her car. All that was left was practicing and acing the driving exam.
Think of being single as possessing a permit for independence. There are plenty of vehicles available for sharpening your skills and learning experiences. Don’t hesitate to ask questions. When you hit speed bumps along the way, people will be there to get you back on track, give you directions, and sometimes even come along for the ride. What matters is that you are trying your best to navigate your course and move forward. Take a deep breath, let the windows down, and embrace rolling solo.
To summarize this article, here are a few of my recommendations for gaining independent victory (but the list is certainly not limited to these suggestions).
- Take yourself on a date—dinner, a movie, whatever interests you.
- Pick a store and focus on buying basic groceries the first time around (i.e., milk, bread, sandwich meat, etc.); if you’re nervous about going alone, check yourself out.
- Choose a cookbook that suggests appetizing meals. Make another trip to the store for ingredients and experiment in the kitchen.
- Try out different gyms until you find one that helps you feel peaceful/motivated.
- Do any of the other “scary” things on your list that has you attached to the inside of your cozy, comfy bubble
- Make a new list (this is especially for those who have already mastered riding solo).
- Ask for help when you need it.
If you ever find yourself feeling overcome by the independent life, don’t let it bog you down! Reach out to others who have more experience; ask for their wisdom and keep pressing forward!
Stay tuned for the second part of the series, Single Isn’t Scary: Identity. To read the intro, click here.
Featured Image by Jeff Kepler