Life Stories Motivation

I Go Places Alone

do-you

Maybe using a copy of my sister’s ID as an 18-year-old to explore NYC nightlife as a solo girl was a little extreme, but those nights with cheap heels on cobblestone streets taught me a lesson; when you go places alone, you build a relationship with the lifelong MVP: ya damn self.

As a Freshman in college, my dorm friends would think I was crazy for strutting out of the building no earlier than midnight to wander off into The Meatpacking district completely alone.

jo

Yikers, who the hell was I back in 2011 

It hit me one night like a “That’s So Raven” revelation; around January of 2011 I was invited out by a guy I barely knew from this awful retail job I had (for no more than a week) in Times Square. He told me he promoted nightclubs, and that I should swing by on what I thought would be a calm Wednesday night. Despite being scared (not only because I was going out alone in the middle of the city, but because I was pretending to be my older sister.. so technically using a fake ID).

Regardless of my fears, I knew that staying in the dorms for another night was something I could count on time and time again.

There’s my roommate, holding the remote in her left hand and  phone in her right, tweeting about garbage reality tv. There are my neighbors, putting their beds together to have another weird “slumber party.”

I knew where I fit in, and that was usually in the corner of the lounge on my laptop looking for the next internship opportunity. What I was completely oblivious to, was what would happen if I went out that night with this stranger.

So I went, and it was PHENOMENAL.

nyc

I experienced a complete transformation of my self confidence, after that night, ya girl became Jo-yonce. Things didn’t seem as scary anymore because I knew I would be ok. I learned my drinking limits, I knew when it was time to go home, it was all pretty #flawless. Freshman year became a blur of going out from Wednesday night until Sunday, and still waking up in time for my 7AM business law class like a bo$$.

In the morning, I’d reflect on stories of the most New York type things; like how I would drink for free in a table of strangers who all thought I was there with some of my closest friends, or how I’d dance the night away and actually become friends with strangers who only knew who I was at night, or how I got denied by the bouncers who think they have godlike authority at the entrance of clubs, not once, but multiple times for wearing my hair curly. Stank curly hair haters.

Whether I experienced slight HaterAid, or had the time of my life for those few hours, I knew I was doing myself a favor by forcing myself to get out in the first place. I began making memories just for myself, so they seemed extra precious.

I mastered the solo night rider thing to the point where I would prefer going out with no tag-alongs because the inconvenience of having to babysit would kill my vibe. And plus, when you’re solo, you become more approachable, if you let yourself be approached.

So now to clear some things about the art of going out alone, because there is technique involved.

Getting over the laziness.

live-your-life

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Here’s some bit of bad news: when you’re thinking about going somewhere alone, you won’t have anyone to tell you to get up off your a$$. That’s where you have to train yourself to be that guy.

I’ve always used the following thought to get rid of my laziness; people do things alone ALL THE TIME.

As in, a young 17 year old girl who’s backpacking Asia, or a post divorcee middle-aged man who’s hitchhiking across The States to get over his heartbreak, or a 70-year old woman who decided to go on a cross-country bike trip solo. I’ve personally met people like those listed above, and the thought of their courage and willpower motivates me to go about my own solo journeys.

Go on a weekly date with yourself.

With all that in mind, maybe you need to train yourself by setting aside a regular “me day”

boogie-boarding-2

boogie-boarding

After moving to LA, I’ve started this routine of going to Santa Monica beach at least once a week by myself, 1. because I want to be a bada$$ boogie boarder and 2. because I have no friends here other than Damon, who’s afraid of open water.

I wake up whenever my eyes feel like opening, get on the public bus for the hour-long journey and jam on the road to my Cali playlist. Stepping out of the 720 bus and seeing the beach gives me chills time and time again. I start grinning like a dork and don’t care who’s watching. Call me selfish, but I love feeling happiness that belongs just to me. I spend three to five hours laying on the sand laughing at ridiculous people, or drooling at the beauty of the sea. Then I get in the water and meet interesting tourists, or newbie Angelenos like myself. We bond about the intensity of the waves, or they compliment me for enjoying my own company. Regardless of who I meet, it always ends the same; another charming encounter to add to my “me date” memories.

Trust yourself.

palm-trees

When you’re out alone, you have two things to worry about:

Social Danger – The kind that makes you run to your phone because you’re afraid you look like that loser who’s creepin’ in a bar. Don’t let this fear stop you, put the phone away and start looking around, an observant eye catches attention. But you’re basically gambling because you could meet someone awesome, or someone annoying. In which case, you need to have an exit strategy planned, like that you’re meeting a friend, or you’re expecting a phone call, etc. A few solo dates and you’ll build a muscle for dippin’ out of bad conversations in no time.

Physical DangerThis is the kind that made my mom have trouble sleeping for all of 2011. After a while, she trusted that I would do the right thing at the sight of danger, and more importantly, I trusted myself. When things got slightly sketchy, I’d tap into my cross country mentality and sprint to the closest safe place; 24 hour CVS, my dorm/apartment, or a crowded and well-lit area.

Confession: One night, after skinny dipping on a Mexican beach, I had to sprint home barefoot an entire mile after losing my flip flops, woooops. I made it home safe, sound, and sweaty.

You’re a woman? And so am I.

woman-traveller

Women travel solo so often that it’s one of the hottest travel categories. We were just cited in Refinery 29 on the 15 Locations Every Woman Should Visit – By Herself, because yeah, we should all be taking trips alone. It’s empowering, builds confidence, and helps you appreciate yourself a little more. If you do make it on a solo trip, another added bonus is that you’ll be helping change the minds of people who think it’s impossible, or extremely dangerous to be a woman traveler. I do have to say that the sketch-o-meter has gotten pretty high at times, especially when I went to Egypt. But if you pick the right locations, and stay smart, and you’ll be alright.

The beauty of doing you.

do-you

If you treat yourself to enough “me time,” you might start awakening that inner best friend you should’ve been hanging out with before puberty hit, das you boo. We get so caught up in the distractions of technology, in what society wants us to think and do, and in how our friends and family expects of us that we never actually give ourselves a chance to just be.

Don’t let people (including yourself) hold you back from doing what you really want to be doing. If no one wants to come with you then give them the #GUHBYE and be on your way. You won’t regret the experience.

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  • Lauro Oliveira

    what amazing and inspiring text, I am from Brasil and this simply made my day, Jo you are really amazing and this whole story is more than inspiring, and yes its all about knowing more yourself, and exploring something new every single day! like we say in portuguese, Aprender também a ser feliz sozinho! amei <3 vamos dar o primeiro passo!

    • Muito bom receber esse comentario, valeu bastante!! Continue being fierce :)!

  • enkay1

    Really weird timing for this article… I’m sitting in my dorm (at a certain NYC university 😉 ) being annoyed with myself for not going out and doing something. Thanks for the advice, Jo!

  • Anna Paula

    Just amazing, I had a little experience of going places alone when I traveled to são paulo, just one day, because my friend slept almost the whole day, and it was amazing i think even better than when i was with him haha… this article inspired me to do this more often.

  • Loved how you wrote this, and of course, the message. So inspiring- thank you! :))

  • jack

    this is amazing!!!!!!!!!

  • kiara

    wow

  • Martha

    I just started solo travelling for the first time this year and I so relate to everything you’re saying. Debunking preconceptions of solo travelling as a woman first hand was such a confidence boost. I ran in to some sketch-o-meter highs in Morocco, but survived and enjoyed the hell out of my first solo trip – ain’t no one stopping me now!

    • SOOO Good to hear you agree Martha! Thanks for reading :)!

  • This was a great read Jo! I’m starting my (mainly) solo, 1-2 years adventure in Oz and I’m so excited! Having gone on my first solo trip to Kenya a year ago, I can attest that it really does empower you and give you confidence. My friends and family all agree that I came back a changed woman haha. Thanks for this! 😊

    • I feel like it should be mandatory to travel solo as a woman!! That’s amazing, Kenya is a dream!

  • Mateus Soares

    You are so inspiring!! This text was just beautiful( this entire blog is great by the way)Thanks for opening up and sharing your wisdom. I’ll be solo traveling to California soon, your words were lifechanging to me.I’m already a big fan(from Brazil)of you guys. Muito obrigado.

    • Obrigada pelo comentario 🙂 Muito legal ver o meu povo brasileiro lendo os textos mesmo em ingles!

  • Celeste Lim

    I’m so glad I came across this. I’m currently doing gap semester and wanted to spend my time doing community service, working, hiking, and swimming (i live on an island) but i havent done much hiking because all my friends were either in school or working. it has crossed my mind to go alone, but I’ve been hesitant. After reading your article, THE DECISION HAS BEEN MADE

  • adorei o texto, bastante inspirador.
    🙂

  • Felipe

    this blog is too good to be true! please keep up with the awesome work, Damon and Jo! i love all your posts and videos!

    • That’s awesome that you liked it! Thanks for reading and commenting!

  • acupofjoan

    I loved reading this hun! Go you! <3

  • May L

    Hi,

    Thank you for this post, it was really nice to see. I recently started travelling alone but I stopped myself when it came to going out at night, it feels like you’ve opened my eyes 🙂

  • Dylan

    I read this in my Child Psychology class and I kept laughing out loud! The people around me hate you for being so funny! Keep it up gurl.

    • Hahaha! Yay! Glad you disturbed the peace for a little Joprah 🙂

  • Lulu

    jo, você é demais! esse post foi inspirador 🙂 descobri o seu canal do youtube há 2 dias e não consegui parar de assistir os videos! você e o damon são bem fofos e divertidos juntos. um beijo pros 2, de uma fã aqui do rio 😉

  • Cleber

    This is one of the best things I have read lately!! I have studied and worked for long 3 years with no rest here in Brazil and last year I finally had a vacation. I decided that I wanted to go to US all by myself and forget about my crazy life here. 15 days, 3 cities (LA, NY and Vegas) walking around with no rules and no one to tell me what to do! Definitely the perfect feeling of freedom… When I watch your videos on youtube, I remind how good it is to travel and how amazing LA is…so wanna go back!!

    • YES! Congrats on the solo trip! Hope the USA treated you well!! Beijao!

  • Rafael Xavier

    OMG, me identifiquei tanto com esse texto, porque é exatamente o que eu faço. Apesar de ter amigos em SP, eu costumo sair muito sozinho e fazer novas amizades, ou acabar quebrando a cara e não fazendo amizade nenhuma. Muitos dos meus “party friends” (como eu costumo chamar) eu os conheci em noites que eu decidi ir para a balada por conta própria e eu nunca me arrependi.

    Parabéns Joanna por ser SUCH uma inspiração. Te adoro, beijo beijo do Rafa do Brasil 🙂

    • Rafa do Brasil! Adorei ler esse comentario :)! Continua sendo um badass!!

  • Skylar

    This really inspired me. I’m always so afraid to go out alone. I can only imagine how great it must be to be all on your own somewhere other than your home! I will start practicing. Love your blog and channel!

  • Pauline LG

    I am the opposite of you and thanks to this article (and all the others you wrote ;)) I hope to be a little more adventurous and do more of what I really want to do..
    Thank you Jo, keep being so awesome !

    • Pauline! You gotta go out there and get it girlfrannn! Thanks for the comment!

  • Danielle Mercado

    I love the way the way you think. I do not let me not having friends in college put a damper on all the places I want to travel to. There is nothing wrong with traveling by yourself

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  • Maskim

    No companion = no concessions.

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  • Mercedez Gaia

    THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’m traveling to Cali by myself for the second time but my friend who I’m staying with is an introvert and doesn’t want to go out with me for NYC so I’ve been contemplating staying in with her or going out to this awesome event I found by myself. This article was a GODSEND 🙂

  • lila henriques

    this is probably the most inspiring thing i’ve read in a long time. seriously, i wish i was older to just do what i want. i have always loved to be alone, without someone annoying me and expecting me to do something i don’t want to. can’t wait for being 18 and just enjoy life by my own, walk around, travel and eventually meet cool people. anyway, great text, you’re definitively awesome, congrats 😉

    • I had to wait until 18 also, my mom always kept me from going too far from her, until BAM, I was 18 and made my own decisions! It feels like you have to wait forever, but it’s only temporary!

  • Vitória Cristina S R

    This inspired me so much I almost cried

  • Syd

    I am totally down with travel solo thing. I’ve been lucky enough to take two big trips in the last couple of years and I love it. Coming home one of the the hardest part of reentry has been not being/existing solo anymore, while also struggling because after moving home to LA, i’m lacking in the friends department. this means its hard for me to make time to be by myself and at the same time its hard for me to find friends, a conundrum a solo traveler rarely has. On the road if I wanted to be alone I would simply just go, and if I wanted to make friends I would walk down stairs to the hostel lobby or check out a group tour and start up a convo. When I first got back I guess I had a natural tendency to those “me dates” you were talking about. I also would head down to the beach. But something I never mastered was going out alone in my own city. I love love love this piece (saw it on Matador). Any advice on how to woman up and hit the town alone, and over come the questions about where your going and what your doing (ei. I live with my parents again, and they don’t mind me going out at all, but it just seems awkward to explain to them or friends that I am going alone). Overcoming that social stigma at home has been way harder than just being myself on the road.

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