Millennials: Don’t Be Afraid to Operate Solo

19 Dec

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I think we’ve finally accepted it: being in your twenties can be slightly lonely. Lone-ranger status… a lot. I used to be one of those people who needed to be around 50 other people in order to feel happy. But as I’ve grown, I’ve come to absolutely LOVE the time I spend alone. Because we need it- for our sanity. And I also feel super-cool when I can get things done on my own. Today’s guest post from Jessica is perfect, reminding us that there’s nothing wrong with operating solo. Enjoy!

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What they don’t tell you about your twenties – the decade of late nights, traveling, reconnecting with high school friends and indulging in happy hours – is that it can get lonely.

Maybe you’re moved into your first apartment without roommates, or you’ve felt a creeping sense of self-consciousness at weddings and baby showers. Perhaps you’re newly single and feeling like you’re waiting at a stand-still, trying to navigate “real life” after college whilst friends are scoring awesome industry jobs and packing up for a new city. Regardless of the scenario, you’re beginning to realize that not all relationships – romantic or platonic, The Notebook-esque or General Hospital-worthy – will last forever, and that’s okay.

Because you have yourself to keep you company. And if you’re introverted, maybe that’s something you understood back in middle school the summer after your peers returned in September, extra mean and extra pimply. If you’re extroverted, maybe it’s something you’re only just coming to terms with now.

Learning to be comfortable with yourself and your thoughts is an understated and yet highly important skill. Knowing how to relish in “me time” is a serious benefit to your emotional and physical health. Relationships complicate and convolute your inward perspective, but being alone will teach you who you are and what you want; what gets you off and what makes you tick; what breaches your tolerance level and what fuels your passion. Introducing yourself to solo situations now will only help you to thrive in these environments as they crop up more frequently in the future.

Take Care of Yourself

Sure, you learned how to do a load of wash, use the elliptical and prepare a meal that wasn’t purchased in the frozen food section while in college. But did you ever try exercising without a gym or jogging buddy? In your 20’s, you should warm up to the idea of attending a class, taking a walk, or just hitting the gym without a friend, and create a workout routine that doesn’t require the coordination of two schedules. You should also stock your kitchen with all the basic essentials – cookware sets like these from Belgique are super affordable – and get into the habit of preparing a fancy-pants dinner for one. Bonus points if you eat it without the TV on. Every so often, don’t be afraid to venture out on your own to get your nails or hair done, and chat with your beautician instead of asking a friend to tag along.

Travel and Explore

Learn how to hail a cab, and take a train or public transportation on your own after mapping out your destination. Take a solo day trip somewhere. Hop in your car, or rent a Zip Car for the day, and drive out to some location or attraction a few hours from home, and spend the afternoon adventuring and sight-seeing. Take lots of selfies and just be present in the moment, taking in all of the new sights and sounds around you. One day, you may even have the guts to take a vacation alone with just me, myself, and I. Sound intimidating? Thousands of people do it every year, whether “it” means backpacking through South Asia, touring around with a group, or taking off for a few days to grab a tan and engage with the locals.

Socialize

Going out without a designated buddy doesn’t mean maintaining your solitude. If loneliness is what we’re trying to combat, then optimize every opportunity to go out and meet new friends and networks of people – just don’t be afraid to venture out alone initially. Attend a networking event or conference, or an introductory class just for kicks. It can be yoga, pottery, HTML coding, resume building, beer brewing; whatever floats your boat. And if you get asked to a party where you only know the person who invited you, go anyway! Tough it out for a few hours, or at least until everyone has warmed up with liquor, and see if you can’t have a good time with a new crowd.

Go to a movie. Make it a matinee, though, so you can prop your feet up on the chair in front of you and rattle your candy and slurp your Coke as loudly as possible. Accompany yourself to happy hour: dress cute, and bring a book or watch whatever game is playing. The sooner you become comfortable and embrace the ability to go out single, the more you will be able to experience when work, family, and conflicting schedules get in the way of plans.

Nights spent on the couch watching Netflix are comfortably easy, but too many of them will make you resentful and lonely. It’s important to get comfortable with yourself sans distractions in your twenties to help build confidence and develop self-awareness and efficiency. Don’t miss out on life because you’re afraid of operating solo – as you get older, you’ll be spending more and more time alone, and that can be a wonderful thing.

Jessica Herbine is a twenty-something PR and Marketing professional working in Philadelphia. She loves to read, write, attend theater performances, rock concerts, and go out for dinner and drinks. Find her on Twitter at @jessherbs, and follow her blog at http://www.100wpm.wordpress.com!

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18 Responses to “Millennials: Don’t Be Afraid to Operate Solo”

  1. Brent Paddack December 19, 2013 at 10:18 am #

    Kayla, I like this–but for different reasons than Jessica intended, perhaps. I like this because it serves as a milestone for her (and others her age). Millennials have grown up as a generation of kids who’ve earnestly invested in (and grown) their social network–or whatever that means, come to think of it. When I was a kid, my social network only included people I knew. I saw them every day and when I couldn’t, I wrote them letters with pen and paper and yet I too was surprised to find myself feeling lonely near my mid-twenties. So, I like that this revelation isn’t unique to the millennial generation. Oh, and about the part where Jessica says that no one ever mentioned that her twenties could be lonely… Well, no one ever said they wouldn’t–especially this hallmark band,

    “Nobody said it was easy
    Oh it’s such a shame for us to part
    Nobody said it was easy
    No one ever said it would be so hard
    I’m going back to the start”….

  2. meredithwyatt1990 December 19, 2013 at 10:26 am #

    Reblogged this on Speak Through Your Heart and Your Mind Will Follow.

  3. kaleidokendra December 19, 2013 at 10:28 am #

    This post made me feel so much better. I’m one of those girls in their twenties who are struggling with feeling lonely. A lot of my friends are getting married and having families and here I am, still in school, single, and living with my mom (blah).

  4. skinnyandme December 19, 2013 at 10:34 am #

    I’ve found that the twenties are a lonely time and as the years go by it only gets lonelier. I’ve never had a problem with doing things by myself-enjoying the me time, however this isn’t what makes me feel lonely. It’s the selfishness I have and that my friends have that ultimately brings upon this feeling.
    During this time period, everyone is trying to make it and figure out what they want to accomplish in the world. And because of this I often feel like people in their twenties have a “fend for yourself” attitude.
    Other people, including friends, can get left in the dust. And that’s how I feel right now. I’m lonely, not because of a lack of trying not to be but solely because a lot of my friends have moved on in their life-boyfriends, new jobs, new cities. And the older you get the more difficult it becomes to establish new meaninful friendships.
    I don’t know…but that’s just been my experience of why I feel lonely in my twenties.

  5. cervifrank December 19, 2013 at 10:56 am #

    Operating solo and doing things without the dependency of other builds tremendous character and gives a person a sense of confidence beyond anything else. When one learns how to move in the world without depending on others is extremely powerful. Like many have said there is a difference in being alone and being lonely. In an age where its hard not to be always connected with others and rely on certain networks to keep us company(Facebook, Twitter, texting, smart phones etc.) Its ever more important for an individual to take time with themselves because that is the person who really has your best interests in mind and knows what you need.

  6. Tara Savage December 19, 2013 at 11:31 am #

    Oh my goodness! What a great post, and reminder to everyone. Loneliness can be a scary place even when you realize you really aren’t alone. Ah so much to say, I really felt what you were saying almost as if I were writing, if it’s ok with you id love to reblog and share this post of yours! Nobody said the twenties are easy, more like terrifying and confusing. But I suppose that will make the 30s that much better! ;)

  7. Jess Herbine December 19, 2013 at 12:45 pm #

    Reblogged this on 100 wpm and commented:
    I submitted my first guest post today to a personal favorite blog that’s one part super fun, two parts inspirational, and simultaneously a guilty pleasure. Check out my piece on rolling solo at Lost Gen Y Girl here!

  8. kaleidokendra December 19, 2013 at 12:56 pm #

    Reblogged this on kaleidokendra.

  9. AlwaysARedhead December 19, 2013 at 5:45 pm #

    Loneliness comes at many different stages of life. I was lonely in my twenties, now in my fifties, I have definite moments of loneliness. The best way to overcome ones feelings of loneliness, is first to recognize then dig down deep for the courage to put yourself out there.

  10. mattandresen December 20, 2013 at 12:40 pm #

    I would love for you to write a piece for my blog in the near future! Good stuff once again!

  11. whimsydoodle December 27, 2013 at 10:10 am #

    I believe that being lonely in your twenties..An age where you’ve almost learnt the bare minimum to survive is rather good! Strange as you may find it but it’s true!
    The sooner you learn to operate solo , the stronger you turn out to be! the more solid your intentions become and more easy life turns out to be!
    No matter what age we are ! we should go through a phase where we feel lonely! we may be surrounded by tons of people but we may stay still end up feeling alone!
    and the reason why I feel its good is because it helps you understand you better and helps you value everything around!
    Take living solo in ur twenties positively , screw expectations , and enjoy life coz not always would you get a time to love your life and live your life your way!!

  12. whimsydoodle December 27, 2013 at 10:15 am #

    Reblogged this on SilverBullet and commented:
    Love what she’s written!
    Take living solo in ur twenties positively , screw expectations , and enjoy life coz not always would you get a time to love your life and live your life your way!

  13. Elaine December 27, 2013 at 8:44 pm #

    Reblogged this on I'm NOT chubby. and commented:
    “Being alone will teach you who you are and what you want.”

  14. KJ December 29, 2013 at 8:01 pm #

    Love this!

  15. Hannah Diamond January 2, 2014 at 4:43 pm #

    This is excellent advice. I traveled alone when I was in my twenties (and into my early thirties) and it is really the best thing you can do. Don’t wait until you have someone to go with, if you want to do something, do it! I traveled to Europe a few times by myself. It is better in some ways than going with others, because you get to do whatever you want.

  16. bafriyie January 27, 2014 at 5:30 pm #

    This is so true! The media builds up the twenties to be a godly, amazing time of your life, yet it isn’t like that all the time. Some people could use a full serving of reality, me included.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Ask the Young Professional | Weekly Round-Up: December 20, 2013 - December 21, 2013

    […] Millennials: Don’t Be Afraid to Operate Solo by Kayla Cruz at LostGenYGirl […]

  2. Meeting the party people | Visionary Bliss - December 23, 2013

    […] Millennials: Don’t Be Afraid to Operate Solo. […]

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