Flying Solo, Part 1
In Part 1:
The Art of Flying Solo
How Not to be Weird
So you’re solo
Woo-hoo. Yay You.
Welcome to flying solo. Don't be awkward, we're all here for one of the same, similar reasons. Bottom line, you’ve reached the point where you need to learn how to do things on your own because...
You’ve lost your last brunch buddie to the marriage or babies club
You’re trying something new and your yoga class was full
You’ve never been good at going solo, and you’re naturally good at most things, so in approximately 5 blogs time you’ll be good at this too
You’re writing a guide on cafe culture & want to know what’s already out there.. Not much, sorry
You're kinda socially awkward, have a bit of anxiety & just feel really weird. But you really want to meet new people. Jackpot.
You need to adjust to the new lifestyle of solo, or maybe you’ve just never been good at it.. Maybe you just feel weird & want to master your weirdness. Maybe you’ve never been to a movie by yourself, gone on a solo roadtrip, taken yourself out to lunch or genuinely enjoyed experiencing something on your own.
There are endless reasons why it’s important to fly solo, & be ok with it.
The Joy of your own company is one of the essential lessons you will learn to carry you through life
A healthy relationship with yourself is the foundation of healthy relationships with other people (My Mum told me that, and she’s wise).
Eventually (at the END of the day... like... the final day..) you will be alone, so the sooner you get ok with it the happier you’ll be. That’s not meant to be depressing, it's meant to be comforting.
Limiting yourself to activities that are dependent on other people will actually reduce your potential for fun. #FOMO (Fear of missing out on fun you might have had on your own)
Overcoming the hangups.
You’re struggling with solo?
Ok, so you’re flying solo - whether its intentional, accidental or it just turned out this way. We all have moments of human - feeling self conscious, a spot of social anxiety - no, no one is looking at you. No, you haven’t forgotten how to use a teacup, & yes, you remembered to put your pants on.
Seriously, no one is looking at you. Or maybe they are, but this ok - you’re probably so endearingly awkward they can’t take their eyes off you.
Natural remedies for overcoming the 'WTF am I doing here?'
meditate (not there, at home).. That’s just weird.
Repeat. The more you go solo - the easier it will be, and the more you will enjoy it... For real.
Strategies for overcoming feeling and looking awkward:
Posture. Head up, shoulders back, fake it till you make it. (don’t worry, you’ll make it.)
Comfort zone. Go somewhere you feel comfortable, saying hello to a friendly, familiar face can go a long way in easing any discomfort you may have.
Hint: When you’re feeling a million bucks - go somewhere new, use that confidence to familiarise yourself with a new place, a new space, & new faces. You can slowly build up repertoire of go-to’s so you don’t tire of the same place, plus it’s nice to be a local (at a few) locals.
Looking good is feeling good...
So step one of flying solo and looking banging, is feeling yourself. Part of flying solo is figuring out who you are. And what you wear says a lot about you to the world. So take the time to present yourself, this isn’t for the benefit of other people, this is for yourself.
Whether that means you’re reinventing yourself with a new wardrobe, a trusty feel good staple, or you simply threw on a pair of oldjeans with a t-shirt & loafers... Throw a newspaper/vogue under your arm & you're set to conquer the solo.
Who is that mysterious creature? people will be asking themselves as you sip your double Frap DECAF Vanilla Latte.
You can’t go wrong with black. It’s a safety net and a canvass. It looks effortless, intentional, and chic - even if it’s laundry day and your wearing your step-brothers Chilli Peppers t-shirt inside out.
It’s nice to have something to do so you’re not blatantly people watching. While there’s no denying you’ll be observing co-diners interpersonal skills, judging their parenting (or lack of), or just pondering the meaning of life while you sip your coconut turmeric latte, a page turner is nice.
Magazines, a small book, kindle? or list-making.. Try to stay away from your phone - hunching over a tiny mobile screen really isn’t good for your posture, plus, we all need a tech-detox now & then.
So order your long black with a dash of almond milk & get stuck into a new book, old favourite, or start your own awkward how-to blog.
Start small and take baby steps. don't jump right in with a Friday night rom-com at the cinemas all on your onesy, that’s a one way ticket to sad-ville.
Flying Solo is something you build upon. It will probably feel awkward at first, there’s no denying that - so here are some strategies for overcoming the awkies, to change your perspective on the solo game.
Master the Fear
It’s daunting, walking into a restaurant and asking for a table for one. Taking yourself to a movie and getting just one ticket. But it’s also irrelevant. No one cares if you’re alone, only you.
If you are able to conquer taking yourself out to a movie, or lunch and having a glass of wine on your own, you will see that confidence stream through other areas of your life. It is one of the greatest challenges you can master.
Going solo doesn’t mean you’re in exile - people aren’t going to gawk, question what you’re doing there, all alone - and if you think they are, it’s all in your head. If you think everyone’s looking at you it’s probably because you’re looking at them.
A moment in your own company is just as valid as a moment in the company of others. And it shouldn't induce an anxiety attack, existential crisis, or unearth repressed feelings of childhood abandonment.
The easiest place to start solo is a cafe.
Why? Because half the people there will also be solo.
It’s the age of soloism,
so embrace it.
Finding Your Spot
Where do you go?
How to choose your cafe can be daunting. Think about your prerequisites in order of preference. Personally I value ambiance more than food or coffee quality. If you're still reading and I haven't lost all credibility, thanks.
Whether you want the trendiest spot in town, the best coffee, convenient parking, or just free wi-fi, there are also some other things to think about...
Ambiance: Is the vibe there? It has to suit your personal aesthetic. Do you enjoy noisy spaces filled with families, do you want to sit outside and look at trees, do you want to be indoors without a spec of sunshine, or do you want to tan while you type? All of these elements will add to your comfort. If you're happiest in your back yard barefoot, don't head to your closest mall Starbucks. Take yourself to the local vegan cafe by the park.
Practicality: Table height, width, layout. Is it comfortable or will you find yourself squirming around & playing table tetris when your coffee arrives. And if someone does join you, will they be able to find a corner for their coffee, too?
Where do you sit?
Table for one, communal, bench or bar, milk crate, astro-turfed..
I always opt for a seat with a view, potential people watching & opportunities to flutter your lashes as passers by is an added bonus.
Proximity: If you’re tucked away in a corner or courtyard far far away, they might never find you again, and you're hiding. Stop hiding and embrace the solo.
Don’t take up a table for 4 if there’s a nice spot for one
The communal table is the safest option
It’s not your lounge room.. Feet off the furniture.
And put your shoes on. Seriously.
Don’t (obviously) conduct business at their business.
Don’t watch youtube videos (full volume) on your phone.. Just go home.
Be discrete: People watch, eves drop and analyze the relationships of fellow diners without drawing attention to yourself. - (Avoid direct eye contact, sympathetic crying or nodding in agreement.)
If you’ve taken over a table order something substantial - a couple of coffees, a meal or two. Think coffee + cake for every hour.
Be polite, leave the diva antics at home.