THE NECESSITY OF SOLO EXCURSIONS
As artists, sometimes we find ourselves cooped up in our homes or studios, seemingly isolating ourselves from the outside world. Every once in a while, we need a break – a breath of fresh air. Add some spice in your life. You need do something on the spur of the moment! So log onto LivingSocial and/or Groupon, start scrolling through the activities list and purchase the first voucher that catches your eye. It can be anything at all. For me, I saw an ad for Plant Nite and was instantly sold. It turned out to be one the most meaningful experiences I had in a LONG time. Mind you, my thumb is anything other than green but wine and pretty plants satisfied my curiosity. Don’t worry about finding others to join you or coordinating schedules, for this adventure, you’re going by yourself. Put yourself in a new environment and with a new group of people – those who you would unlikely interact with in a different situation.
Yes, some artists thrive in any environment and some of us don’t. In fact, the thought of stepping out of your comfort zone terrifies many of us – me included. But why wait on someone else to do something that you want to do. You are all you need. Stop missing opportunities and experiences because of this. Forget about being socially awkward and do more solo excursions. Trust me, you and your art will benefit.
When I booked my voucher for Plant Nite and attended the following day, I had no idea what the experience was going to be like. But without a friend to join in the experience, I walked into the venue - AWKWARD AS ALL HELL. I looked around and went towards the seat where no one else was sitting (of course). Everyone seemed to be enjoying the company of their friends and not too aware of little ol’e me or anything else. So I smiled nervously at whomever I made eye contact with. Lucky for me, another woman came by herself and welcomed me to sit by her. She was a delight, very friendly! Soon I felt super comfortable in my awkwardness and started having fun talking to everyone at the table, which ended up filling up shortly after.
Plant Nite was so much fun! The best decision I’ve made in a while - stepping out of comfort zone in a new environment by myself. The only downer was that it ended at about 8:15 PM and I didn’t want to go back to my empty apartment, where I just felt uncreative and unmotivated. I wanted to continue my high. I asked a few friends who lived in the area if they wanted to go to one of the nearby bars. Not surprising, they were all busy. So… on to destination #2! I walked two blocks to a bar I frequent in hopes of continuing stride of patronizing new places by myself and meeting new people. I looked around and soon realized it was still pretty early and empty. I had no intention of staying out too late since I had to go to work the next day. After about 20 minutes of walking around not trying to stick out like a sore thumb, I said to myself, "girl, you got this," took my seat at the bar, ordered a drink and appetizer, and pulled out my sketchbook. I made it this far so I might as well live in the moment. For some reason, even though I didn’t talk to anybody other than the bartenders, I was oddly happy. I finally felt creative and full. So many ideas were coming from every direction for new paintings, posts, and projects! I just kept writing and sketching.
In those moments, I realized what lesson I needed to learn that night - you have to enjoy your own company and thoughts. You are enough. Your presence is enough. You don't need anybody else to be happy and in the moment. I think that’s all we are really looking for when we're in creative funks and in general. I didn’t even realize that more people came until I got ready to leave about an hour and a half later. I was in my own world paying attention to no one and nothing but my thoughts. Although I was solo, I wasn’t so strange after all (at least in my humble opinion, haha). I didn’t feel sad or out of place. That night, I really liked myself – my awkwardness, my new plants, my new sketches, and my quirky encounters. I was proud of myself for stepping out of my comfort zone and doing something for myself on my own time.
Sometimes, you have to see your own growth. Your creativity manifests itself with a new action. Honestly, this time last year, I probably would’ve have left or cried in the bathroom. My social anxiety was, and sometimes still is, just that bad. It has stopped me from many opportunities in the past. For years, I tried to be less weird and even stopped going out and doing new things unless I had a friend with me to make me feel more confident. I created my security blanket and comfortably wore it like a cloak of honor. I’ve been trying to break out of that codependency and fear to be more self-assured in my skin. It took me a long time to accept that I will always be awkward/weird to some degree and that there is absolutely nothing’s wrong with that lol. Some people just have this quirk and some don't. I'm not too sure if it's a gift or a curse but that night was confirmation that I’m focusing less on how others perceive me and more about how I feel/show up in the moment AND groove in my own vibes.
Essentially, I share my solo excursion to say, it starts with you, where you go, what you do, and what you give off. Embrace yourself, step out of your comfort zone, and gain new experiences. I encourage you all to try new things solo. Don't be afraid how others will perceive you or wait on other's to fuel your creativity. Put yourself in new environments and positions to create. Get out there and give yourself new experiences!