“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go.”
Did I lose you yet? I guess not if you’re still here. A little cliche, I know, I know. Leading in with the Dr. Suess quote. But damn it’s just so good.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately on the nature of going it alone. Traveling alone, dining out alone, seeing movies alone, spending the entire day alone. Short term bouts of digital detox coupled with actually, physically being alone.
Last weekend, I covered most of those bases, something I hadn’t done in awhile given I live in New York now and social obligations come in threes. What I discovered is how much time you can spend up in your head. Launching points and counterpoints, hypothesizing, daydreaming, analyzing, arguing with yourself, making up with yourself, holding fake conversations with the person across from you on the subway. Ok, now I definitely lost you. Crazy woman, you think, but it’s kind of awesome and very liberating to realize that you can be your own best friend. (Of course, I don’t recommend that being your only best friend.)
Why does this matter? I think it takes spending a lot time by yourself, being comfortable with that fact, and feeding your need for conversation through inner dialogue to lead a truly adventurous life. Our friends and families are operating in their own little orbits that don’t always intersect. Waiting for alignment to jump into new experiences and travel to far-flung places equals more missed opportunities. It’s easy to use the absence of a companion as an excuse to hold back.
I’ve found that my ability to go it alone has shifted throughout my life. At 18, I had no qualms about moving to Ecuador but at 22 subconsciously held myself back from opportunities in Russia. Now, I’m at a place where I’ll do pretty much anything by myself if a companion isn’t readily available and it’s something I want to do.
As I think about the next horizons in my life, I look to this same kind of courage I see in my friends who move across countries for jobs or start down new career paths or go back to school; that rip themselves from current social nets and cast themselves willingly out to find new harbors. Making decisions, knowing that at the end of the day, going it alone is totally cool and not needing a companion to help you along is a great liberating factor. We are free to choose the paths and experiences that we will find the most fulfilling, and in turn become better companions, friends, lovers, parents.
In my generation’s parlance this might equate to “you do you.” Or to put it more delicately, “you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go.”