I've been going to Walt Disney World for as long as I can remember. That was one of our top vacation spots. My grandfather worked there for years, so we always got in for free, which is a huge blessing. I'm so grateful that I get to say visiting Disney was such a huge part of my life growing up; not everyone has that privilege.
Of course, as my brother and I got older, we began to go less and less until we got to the point where we would go maybe once a year (mainly because of me). So, it then became a place to visit my best friend. She's from Arizona, so we would always plan our visits with each other at either Disney World or Disneyland because it's a shared love of ours. However, I had never considered going alone.
Just like a lot of people, I have a hard time doing things alone that are typically meant for socializing. I don't like going to eat alone, going shopping alone, etc. I become hypersensitive to others and what they might be thinking of me. It's silly, but I feel as though a lot of people experience it as well. Social anxiety is common, but it can also be crippling. I used to let it keep me from doing things I loved. As I've gotten older, I try to force myself to do more things alone. It's inconvenient to always have to find somebody to accompany me when doing simple, public tasks. But it's also important to be able to have fun by yourself too.
My grandfather gave me two free Disney park hoppers that I had to use by December 13th, which is coming up quite fast. With finals being that week and Thanksgiving break right before that, I knew I needed to use at least one before I went back to Georgia for the break. I didn't want one to go to waste.
In my sorority, there is a group of girls with annual passes I could've asked to come along with me, but I decided that I hadn't been in a while and it would be nice to get to do whatever I wanted without accommodating to anyone else's agenda. I was excited up until I finally parked in the Epcot parking lot. My anxiety set in quick once I saw all the families and friend groups all walking over to the monorails together and I was there alone. I knew that plenty of people do it, but I had never seen it myself. Nonetheless, I worked up the courage to get out of my car and head to the park.
Let me just tell you, it was one of the best days I've ever had. I would just talk to random people in line, I got to see shows that my family never wanted to watch with me, I got to sit and hang out in some of my favorite areas of the parks I visited. I was able to go to Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios all in one day. I ended up making a whole group of friends by the end of the day and spent my last 3 hours at Disney with them, all of which I would never have done if I had come with other people. By the time I got back to my car when the park closed, I had completely forgotten how anxious I was that morning.
The whole experience was empowering. To be able to go and enjoy myself without the company of others in an environment that's marketed towards families and friends coming together to socialize was such a confidence boost. I got a few weird looks when people first asked if I was alone and my response was yes, but it just didn't bother me. I was able to be knowingly judged and not care at all. The entire day felt like a big self-care day. It's crazy how a little day trip to Disney is what made me realize how it's fully acceptable to do things like this alone, but I feel as though we all have to have our a-ha moments. I'm sure I'll still struggle from time to time, but my Disney day changed my entire perspective on situations like this and how easily I can handle them, and that's pretty magical if you ask me.