The Developmental Value of Doing Things Alone

It’s easier to do things with another than alone. By things, I mean experiences. These are not experiences like reading a book alone, but rather experiences that provide value and improve your knowledge.

Would you consider going to an event alone? Doesn’t matter what kind. It could be a fashion show, charity gala, or concert.

My hypothesis is that more people will say no than yes. They would say “yeah I’d go if somebody would go with me,” but not “yeah sure, I’ll go alone.”

I’m beginning to see this as a problem for myself. Why? Let me break it down.

DISTRACTION-FREE

The first point is pretty obvious. When you’re alone, you have less distractions. Say you’re at a workshop (I was just at a Digital Marketing workshop this week) and you’re alone. What do you do?

First things first, you’re probably feeling a little awkward if you’re more of an introvert than extrovert. You’re feeling lost and have no idea what to do to “fit in,” am I right?

This is actually an advantage. When you’re glancing around the room trying to figure out what you’re supposed to be doing or how to act, you’re observing. You’re seeing how others are interacting – networking – with one another and you can pick up pointers by eavesdropping. You’re also more likely to focus and retain much more information when listening to panelists and speakers because you don’t have to care about what to discuss with the person you’re with (during or after the event). Alone is an advantage.

Attending an event or workshop alone allows you to gain the experience and skills you wanted to acquire when you RSVP’d.

INDEPENDENCE

I hate being alone in social situations. Like I mentioned above, I stand there feeling like a deer in headlights and have no idea what to do. One thing I’ve come to learn is that people don’t care that you’re alone. When I’m in social space where I am not seemingly the “odd one out” and I see somebody alone, nothing crosses my mind. I need to remind myself that just because I feel awkward AF (lol) doesn’t mean people notice. They don’t.

Doing things alone is valuable in this way because it teaches you independence. How should you behave? How should you manage the situation? How should you make the experience one that is worthy? You are in control of the narrative.

An important comparison I like to make is to question if you’re going to be guided through your whole life. Probably not. Let the journey of you learning the necessary skills – life or career skills – also be the learning of mastering the art of being alone.

OPPORTUNITIES

By accepting to do things alone, you have more opportunities. Just because your go-to friend isn’t available doesn’t mean you can’t go. You can, and you will. Alone.

The first thing to do is to overcome is that alone isn’t a bad thing. It doesn’t mean you’re a loner. It doesn’t mean anything, other than the fact that you were interested and therefore RSVP’d.

The second thing to do is to rock the “alone” look. Make it so it’s natural to you, so that you don’t even have to think twice about not going to an event because you have to go alone.

I’m not saying there isn’t value in going to events with others. There are. There are more insights and perspectives other than your own. But, once you’re comfortable with rolling solo, you’ll probably be comfortable with striking up a conversation with a stranger. They can also offer different approaches and views to your own.

The biggest thing to understand here is that you should be able to do things alone. You shouldn’t have to neglect your desire to go somewhere because you’d be alone. Learn the value of being alone – how it can help you develop your skills and be beneficial for your future endeavours.

Photo by Bryan Minear on Unsplash

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