Last week I took part in the annual 10 km sprint in my home town ... with no hype man/woman. The thought of it was daunting, even challenging at first. Running such a race for the first time with no one cheering you on. A few years back 25 year-old me would have ditched the race and thrown a mini-tantrum at my friends and acquaintances for seemingly placing me at the bottom of their priority list and in a split second I would have thrown away several months of training in preparation for this race. Having no hype man/woman reminded me of one thing that I have had to come to terms with since my move abroad: learning to sometimes do the things I love by myself - 'soloing.'
Take courage: Nur Mut!
In a world where social media makes it seem like everyone is having the time of their life, you might need brassy balls to go out there and do things differently. One of the challenges I have encountered living in a somewhat small German city is that it might take long to build a large circle of friends, especially those with whom you can carry out many leisure activities. And depending on their phase in life, it might even get harder to gather 'quorum'. At 30-35, chances are that people have other priorities; family, career or are venturing out into other social circles. And if you are from a culture where you have always been surrounded by friends and new acquaintances, because it is generally easy to meet new people, this can be very challenging indeed. But take courage. Self love is a thing. If you need to take a trip to the cinema or to your favourite restaurant to wind down after a busy week, do it even if you have to do so by yourself. And don't be apologetic about it!
Soloing does not necessarily mean that you must be lonely. For some people, eating out or going to the movies solo can be quite liberating. Loneliness is a state of mind. As the saying goes, you can be alone and not feel lonely but be surrounded by people and still feel lonely. It's important to be aware of the difference. When taking solo-trips to restaurants I was at times initially overcome by what I thought would be other peoples' opinions about me. It was this feeling of pity that I thought they would have towards me. And this would evoke self-pity. Plus, looking physically foreign i.e. being Black in Germany, seems to add a dimension of inhibition to this mental cinema. However, what seemed difficult and challenging at first, I have learnt through practice to do. Taking a morning or evening jog, a trip to the cinema or to my favourite restaurant or taking part in a race with no hype man/woman ... these are things I can now solo-trip on without hesitation.
While solo-tripping I wondered if I was the only one making solo 'voyages'. Since google is my friend, I came across blogs on travelling solo (wow!). Plus I have met some wonderful like-minded soloists in different meet up communities with whom I can share my experiences. Many that turn up for such meet ups initially do so by themselves too and after a short while acquaintances turn into friendships. There were also a few soloists last week at the sprint in my town. Several of them including myself were once in a while cheered on by some of the strangers on the sidelines. This was heart-warming.