If that title got Destiny’s Child stuck in your head, awesome: that was the point.
If it didn’t, you should be embarrassed, because that is one of my favorite songs to rock out to. It’s also the theme of this post: Independent Women. As a woman who has a loyal, loving, stead-fast boyfriend living 0.81 miles down the road, (door-to-door, I Googled it) and a roommate who has been my best friend for more than 10 years, I get used to doing everything with a companion: grocery shopping, watching TV, making dinner, running errands, even studying.
Except going to the gym. Emily, said roommate and best friend, will not go to the gym with me. Period. Ever. And Rick….goes when I really ask but isn’t exactly Mark Wahlburg. (That man’s home gym is bigger than Towson’s.) I usually end up sweating alone, so it’s fitting that the gym is where this all began.
Advice to all Towson students: Go to the gym during Tigerfest weekend. I promise you, there won’t be more than three people there.
I’ve been wanting to try the weight machines for awhile now, but to be honest, I’m terrified to leave the cardio loft. Why? Big dudes that look like Ronnie and The Situation just sit down there, lift some weights, watch themselves in the mirror, take a break, watch themselves in the mirror, bro it up with some other guy, watch themselves in the mirror, and repeat. Plus, boys stink when they work out.
However, I was wise enough to go when 99% of TU students are too drunk to walk straight, so there was no one on the weight machines. Literally, no one. I eyed them as I went up to the ellipticals, wishing that I knew how to use them. Another pull-back to using the machines is that I don’t want to look like the idiot girl who doesn’t even know how to use them. (Which I don’t.)
After 10 minutes, I looked over and saw that the weight machines were still available. I figured now was my chance: they were available and there were less people around to mock me. Deciding to try the man-machines without Rick to show me how was Step #1 on my road to enlightenment.
Although it was tempting, I ignored the urge to pretend I knew what I was doing, aka just guess, and read the instructions. I don’t know why that seems like such a big deal, even the manliest of men had to learn how to use the chest press at some point in his life. So don’t judge me, ya jerks! I figured out the chest press, the fly machine, a pull down thing, and of course got in on some thigh master action.
Maybe it was going outside of my comfort zone, maybe it was pushing weights (more than the 5 pounders in my living room), or maybe it was a combination of both, but I felt like Venus Williams. Or whatever fit, strong, athletic woman you’d like to picture. Hope Solo, Lolo Jones, whoever floats your boat. (Sidenote: why do famous women athletes have such weird names?!)
After figuring out the weight machines on my own, challenging myself to use them, and actually doing it, I felt incredible. I felt strong, empowered, and independent. I felt like I could do anything. Except push more than like 45 pounds. Because I’m weak and my arms were tired. It may seem like a tiny little thing, but like I said earlier, I’m used to always having someone with me, always being in my comfort zone, and never having to do things alone.
Well, I enjoyed being alone so much that I decided to continue the trend. I headed to Tigerfest, alone, which I don’t recommend to anyone, but I had to work for a little while, so I had no choice. But that’s not the cool part- the cool part is what I did next.
As an only child, I’ve always loved alone time and cherished the moments that I have to myself. Usually those moments are spent reading or writing or watching Teen Mom 2. But I’ve always envied those people that go out to dinner by themselves and are just chillin’, reading a book or something. In social scenarios, I’ve always deferred to having someone with me, it just feels more natural than going alone.
But Rick was at work until late in the evening, so I knew that I could either go home and waste my life on Facebook or in front of the television, or I could go out, alone, and do something fun. I know that you know that I chose the latter, or I wouldn’t be writing this post. (“They don’t know that we know that they know. Ah! The mess-ers become the mess-ees!” Name that TV show.)
After seeing previews for The Other Woman, I decided that I had to see it. I wanted to see Ride Along when it came out, but I just never cared enough to make time to go see it. The last movie I saw in theaters was, I think, Monsters University. I’m just not a pay-$12-for-a-movie-when-you-can-rent-it-for-$1 kinda gal. But I decided that instead of sitting home on my laptop all night, I would go out.
I decided that I could be the person eating alone. I am a strong, independent woman, and if I want to go see a movie and my boyfriend is unavailable, who gives a darn! I can go anyways! Did you read that with fanfare in the background? That’s how I imagined it.
For some reason, one of the biggest college towns in the state doesn’t have a movie theater. Don’t ask me why, because it makes no sense whatsoever. But I wasn’t going to let that stop me. The iconic Senator Theater is just a few miles from campus, so I decided that I would not only try this alone-in-public thing, but I would also try it in a new, non-comfortable environment. It was
raining pouring, and there’s no parking lot adjacent to the theater, and I’m proud for not letting that stop me. I was totally and completely set on doing this with no one else and for no one else.
Please, everyone, don’t tell my grandmother that this happened, I am begging you! The woman would kick my butt if she knew that I had gone anywhere – especially the city- at night- alone. Fear is hereditary in my family, and I’m trying to break free of the “don’t go anywhere, don’t do anything, live your life in constant fear of being robbed” mindset. But she doesn’t need to know that!
I got to the parking area just fine, I got to the theater just fine, and I got a seat just fine. (I also had my key in my hand and a massive umbrella ready to beat the fool that tried anything, no worries.) Something about buying just one ticket for a movie, only needing one seat, and sitting there alone really amazed me. I felt something that I’d never felt before, and I didn’t even once think about what the other people thought of me.
I didn’t wonder if they thought I got stood up, if they thought I was a pathetic cat-lady, if they thought I had no friends. I’m thinking all those things now! No, kidding. I didn’t care what they thought of me then, and I still don’t. I know that I was confident and independent enough to go to the movies alone. Maybe for some people that’s no big deal, but for me, it was an accomplishment.
When I thought something was funny, I laughed. Not because the person next to me was laughing. I didn’t have anyone to impress with my quick wit and humor ;), so I could 100% focus on the movie, and not have to think about something clever to say. I was so fully invested in the moment – in my moment, that I enjoyed every second of it. (It also helped that the movie was hil-a-rious! I loved it, go see it. By yourself!)
My next assignment is going to be actually eating in a restaurant alone. And to be honest, I don’t think it will be hard. I’m so excited to go out and try new things alone. I’m by myself again tonight, and I was dying to go out to eat. Unfortunately, I’m over budget for the month and I’ve got lots of homework to do, so I decided on a relaxing eve in sweats at home instead. And I’m still immensely enjoying it.
I’d like to thank Emily and Rick for being lazy bums that hate going to the gym, because without them, I may not have had this wonderful experience. No, seriously. I can lean on Rick a lot, and we do so many things together, but it’s nice to be reminded that I don’t need a man to keep me company. I choose to have a man that keeps me company, and I would be just fine on my own.
Being in a relationship for so long (3 and a half years, for those that don’t know) makes you forget what it was ever like to be single. I don’t remember a day where I didn’t want Rick to come grocery shopping with me or when I didn’t ask “hey, I’m running to the bank, do you want to come with?” It feels like we have been a duo for so long. It’s like he’s just another appendage. Emily’s dad asked me where he was the other day by asking “where’s your shadow?” Yes, we really are together all the time.
I’m so comfortable in my routine and in my relationship, that sometimes I do forget that I am my own person and I can go places by myself. You may think less of me for admitting it, but so be it. I’m writing all of this to be real, be honest, and be truthful about life. And the truth is, when you love someone, you want to spend as much time with them as possible. Joint laundromat trips are just one small facet of that, so deal with it.
Simply gong to a movie alone may seem trivial, but it opens a gateway to much larger things. If one day I get offered a great job writing for Glamour in NYC, I want to be free to take it. Not that my relationship won’t be considered, but that I won’t turn it down simply out of fear of being alone or doing it without Rick.
Rick makes me better, yes. But I can do great things on my own, and I don’t need him constantly with me in order to accomplish things. I don’t want to look back and think “I could have done ________, but I was too scared to do it alone.” I want to look back and think “wow, I can’t believe I did _________ by myself. I am so glad I conquered my fear and proved to myself how much I can do.”
Anyway, my point is this: no matter who you are, what your relationship is like, what your fears are, or what you want to do, you can do it. If you want to go try that new vegan cafe down the street and your bestie is a devout carnivore, go alone. Don’t regret not trying it, and don’t wait! It may go out of business. I don’t know how a vegan cafe could really make that much money.
That’s all for me, folks. I’m going to make some tea (alone), read a magazine (alone), make pancakes and/or waffles (alone), and eat them around midnight (when Ricky gets back from work).