Planning out summer vacations can get a bit tricky in our household. We had to juggle work schedules, the kids camp sessions, and back to school dates. But as we did that, one thing became realistically clear. I would have to be spending a good portion of our family vacation by myself! Without the family. A solo vacation. Let that just sink in for just a bit.
As an introvert, I knew I would cherish this time to myself. But how much I would actually end up enjoying this time, was beyond me. To put it in perspective for you, our summer break is usually in VA, which is home base for us as expats. So the familiarity of the home and roads is there, yet since there is no routine or responsibility, it essentially turns into a vacation.
For starters, what made it easy for me, was that I had zero mom guilt. None. Zilch. Truth be told, my kids were at fabulous camps – growing, learning, making friends and enjoying themselves. They had this opportunity that I never had growing up. I was actually doing them a favor! The question that I was frequently asked was
Did I miss them?
There I said it.
I relished my time by visiting small independent bookstores, spoke with owners and took my time to browse books by local authors. Other days, I took the metro into Washington, DC. I visited the parks, historic sites, walked around trying my hand at photography. My evenings were spent in local cafes – writing or people watching. The peace that comes with not having to rush anywhere or stick to a schedule is insurmountable. Surprisingly, (or not), I didn’t spend my time in shopping malls. No judgement if that is your calling, but retail therapy wasn’t doing it for me anymore. But let’s not discredit the power of Amazon Prime – If i needed anything, it was there the next day.
Have you ever sat at a table in a restaurant by yourself? Dining is often viewed as a social experience with friends and family, but we often forget the pleasure of solo dining. The satisfaction of solitary eating enables one to savor guilty pleasures without judgement. If I want to eat that grand slice of carrot cake with cream cheese – there is no one watching! Thought I must admit, there is a certain vulnerability in sitting by yourself and putting yourself out there. Perhaps because there is a social stigma associated with eating alone?
I personally didn’t mind at all. I had the pleasure of my own deep thoughts to keep me company. In hindsight, I don’t know if that was such a great idea. I’m an over thinker and can go down a rabbit hole with them.
Needless to say, living solo gave way to inner thoughts. I contemplated the relationships in my life (yes there are many that need reconsidering!). It was time for self reflection and self questioning which led me to think about the conscious decisions I should take for a happier and more content life moving forward. One doesn’t really get the time to contemplate this everyday, so a reset of sorts is needed. This was my reset.
Spending time alone recharged me, brought me joy, and helped me discover a sense of independence! When you live with someone, you inevitably rely on each other for many things. Living alone puts you in the drivers seat. Along with a sense of independence is the confidence in your self to see the ability you have. You have to get yourself places, figure out directions, make decisions and in essence become more self reliant.
On a lighter note, the one sure thing I struggled with was carrying grocery bags from the car in one trip! Does anyone realize how hard that is! I obviously did not want to make 2 trips. I was juggling bags, purse, keys, water bottle – my arms were getting a workout and I could see my veins popping out!
My time was just shy of 3 weeks and so very well spent! I would do it again in a heartbeat. Perhaps even travel to a new city to keep things interesting!
Have you spent time alone or vacationed solo? How did you feel?