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Last night, like every night before it these last few weeks, was one of the most glorious of my life. It was midnight, and I was walking through the woods, alone. The trees blocked most of the moonlight and starlight, but above and below and all around me, I was surrounded by fireflies.
All at once, I felt secluded in nature, and like I was scuba diving, and like I was riding Space Mountain, and like I was on some kind of drug that just makes you love everything around more than you thought possible.
Every mile or so, I'd come into a clearing; moonlight illuminated the wildflowers and prairie grass, and the flashing of fireflies seemed to extend all the way to the horizon.
It was rapture!
Yet I found myself wondering: would I be so inclined to spend so much time doing epic things alone if not for social distancing?
I think the answer is 90% yes, and 10% no.
90% yes, because I have a long track record of doing my own thing, even if I'm the only one doing it. I travel alone at least three months a year (no, I'm not "lucky" -- I planned my life to allow this). I surf, mountain bike, and backpack in the wilderness -- ideally, with friends, but if no one's available, that's not going to stop me from going!
Image: @TheHappyTalent on Instagram
For a not-obviously-epic activity, like walking in the woods or going for a swim in a local lake... I think that, generally, before COVID, I'd be less inclined to do these things alone.
The potential for fun is just less obvious.
It can seem more like a supplement to social interaction (you can sit and look at each other, or you can walk and talk) than an activity in and of itself.
Of course, as I wrote in Everything's Always Worth It: Reclaiming the 15 Minutes, exerting a small amount of physical and creative energy -- a small amount of willingness -- can turn a boring, unfulfilling, forgettable day into an adventure you will never forget.
This could have been just another boring Tuesday:
This could have been just another forgettable Wednesday:
It's definitely ALWAYS WORTH IT to get out and do something...
But that lack of willingness, that instinct for idleness, often keeps us at home, watching Netflix (even though so many of the shows are offensively bad) and snacking (even though you're bored, not hungry).
ESPECIALLY when it feels like we are the only ones who are alone tonight.
FOMO, or "fear of missing out," is something many older adults like to mock -- yet it's very powerful and real, especially in the digital age. As humans, we've evolved to be extremely concerned what others think about us, and we are highly sensitive to loneliness and rejection. (People who weren't... died alone without passing on their DNA and therefore don't exist anymore. Loneliness is one of the most important things we can possibly feel, which is why "Before others can love you, you need to learn to love yourself" is a completely ridiculous thing to say.)
It's totally normal to wonder, as Mindy Kaling so brilliantly put it, "Is everyone hanging out without me?"
At least... that's the way it was before COVID.
Now, most reasonable people are social distancing. Social and travel plans have been disrupted, many of us are still working from home, and everyone is spending a lot more time alone.
Which... kind of makes this the perfect time to reframe how you think about spending time alone, and how you categorize "social" activities like walks, jamming, and swimming.
You probably already have, without even realizing it.
But if you haven't -- do it now.
It's worth doing things alone right now, because everyone is doing things alone right now.
Go on a camping trip -- all by yourself.
Learn an instrument -- all by yourself.
Spend a day at the beach -- all by yourself.
Learn a new sport or hobby -- all by yourself.
Visit a local tourist spot or roadside attraction -- all by yourself.
Because everyone is dong everything alone right now, so there is no reason to worry about missing out. And, who knows? While you're out there, finding epic in the everyday, you just might meet someone who's doing the same.
Want to know more? Check out Downward Social Comparison is the Number One Best Way to Feel Better About Yourself.
About the Author
Eva is a content specialist with a passion for play, travel... and a little bit of girl power. Read more >
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