Is it possible to be too independent?
Do you do things independently?
I went to the ballet recently with some girlfriends, it was an eclectic mix of people who had happened upon the fact that we all wanted to go to see the ballet through a chat on social media. Over pre-theatre dinner we talked about the idea of going alone, and it would seem going to the cinema alone is deemed OK, but I was the only person who had been to the theatre alone before. I was also told recently that I am “too independent” So it got me thinking is there really such a thing as too independent? What does that mean? There would be a lot that I would have missed out on if I had waited for other people to be able to/want to come wth me to things:
Ballet in Helsinki - one of the most moving and sensual performances i have ever seen
Live jazz in Helsinki - one of the funniest and friendliest nights of my life
Ballet in Melbourne - Exquisite Cinderella, by the talented Australian National Ballet
Italian Jazz in Melbourne - why not?! I love Jazz and i Love Italian, it’s a perfect night out for me
Shakespeare at The Globe in London - countless times, it’s one of my favourite places on the planet. I escape there whenever i can, for all sorts of performances with company and alone
Broadway shows in New York City - Because it’s New York, it has to be done!
Shakespeare in the West End in London - Different interpretations of RSC performances intrigue me
I don't just do independent events, but independent travel too...
There are countless others. I would love to attend these events with people that enjoy the same things and I love spending time with. There aren’t so many of those around, or life has changed for them and they have commitments that mean they can’t go to as many as I do any more. Life changes every day for all of us, but I will never miss out on anything because I am waiting for someone else to come and join me. For me that’s a far more lonely place to be than doing something I really want to do alone.
Independent or stubborn?!
People tell me I am independent and strong, strong is something I rarely feel and i’d say i’m more stubborn than strong. A trait that has been passed down from my beloved late Nanny. My first solo travel adventure was fuelled by what I would describe as stubbornness over strength. In my first year as a single girl after almost 10 years in relationships I wanted to do stuff for me. I booked a raft of gig tickets, theatre tickets, train tickets. It was a series of events and trips that I quite fancied doing, I found people to go with me as I went a long. I often got them to try new things that they have never considered before. It was a lot of fun.
I choose independent over despondent
In preceding years I was taken away for my birthday every year, in a tradition my ex and I had created. We made memories in places that we had always wanted to go instead of buying stuff that we didn’t need. So what was I going to do this birthday? Sit at home and ponder where I would have gone? No! I picked somewhere I had wanted to go for a long time and decided to take myself away.
The location I picked was New York City, i’d wanted to go there since childhood. The initial plan was to have a long weekend there, maybe 5 days of exploring and then come home. But the adventurer in me came out, and a “while i’m there” mentality appeared. I’d also always wanted to go to Boston, Chicago, Washington DC and San Francisco too and all save SF are relatively close by. I have a penchant for train travel so decided to knit them all up neatly into my own package tour and do the whole lot at once.
Independent is scary, but it's less scary than regret
I got carried away making the dream happen and booked it all within a month. I had a couple of moments during the planning process, where I thought “oh my gosh what have I done?!”. Then again finally when I sat on the plane at Heathrow, about to depart for 3 weeks of solo travel my mind was filled with: “What if no one talks to me for the whole time i am away? What if i hate it? What if it’s the worst thing that i ever did? I would have wasted all that money!” I reasoned that if the trip was all of those things then the worst thing that would happen was that I would turn around and go home. I am fortunate that home is a pretty safe and welcoming location for me. So all things told it seemed like quite a safe bet.
Now is a good a time as any!
The weekend away to NYC morphed into a multi week, multi state, tour from coast to coast of the US by train. It had become an adventure. Many of my friends and family were so excited for the idea of my trip, if i had £1 for everyone that said “Oh i’d love to do that” i’d be a very rich lady. A couple of them even wanted to come with me, one went as far as checking out tickets but never actually booked. Company would have been OK, but I was happy to go alone. I didn’t want loss of a ritual to define my birthday, I wanted to create a new way to celebrate it with the themes that I love. Food and travel.
I dived headlong into that trip and just did my own thing, I didn’t even tell my airbnb hosts it was my birthday on the day itself. I spent the day exploring the city. I took myself for a steak dinner, toasted with a glass of red wine. I went to a famous bakery for some birthday cupcakes and went to see a broadway show. I was OK with it, it was other people that weren’t and I didn’t want to have to deal with them when I was having fun just doing me.
Company is the icing on the cake
Does that make me too independent? I don’t think so, it means I know what I want, I can keep myself entertained. I am not dependent on having the company of other people around me. I love my friends and family, and keeping their company. But it’s the icing on the cake of an already good life to spend time with them, instead of a necessity to make me raise up and provide the sponge of that cake or foundation for my life.
So i resolve that independent is OK, anyone that tells me otherwise has their own motives or needs at heart not mine.
What’s your experience? Do you have an independent/stubborn streak?! Where does it take you?