A month ago I ventured from small town Georgia to Nashville, Tennessee with two suitcases, one of those trendy mini backpacks, and a mind full of expectations. My sister lives in Music City USA, and so kindly copped me an internship and a free place to stay. Though I am staying with my sister, I have had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with myself, and so far, it has proven to be a great way to familiarize myself with being alone and a new place. Here are some things I'm learning
1. There's a big difference between loneliness and being alone.
After leaving the comfort zone that Athens, GA has become, I was forced to become comfortable with a quiet room again. College is hustling and laughing and chatting all of the time with your friends and going to concerts and making new friends. A summer on your own is reading a book at a coffee shop and going to Goodwill by yourself and going out on the boat and feeling the wind blow past your face.
Summer has been really restful, and I have realized that being alone is really healthy sometimes. Don't get me wrong, as humans we need friends and family and people who truly care and want to hear about the best and worst parts of our day, even if those events are boring ones like drinking a really superb iced coffee or receiving a not-so-pleasant comment from a co-worker.
However, silence and self-reflection are super important. Getting caught up in how others perceive us or filter our lives through their lens can cause us to become distant from our own thoughts. Being alone has not come with loneliness in the past month; It has reintroduced me to myself.
2. Just because you are in a big, cool city, you probably won't be having all that many Instagrammable moments.
I have posted once on Instagram since I have been here and it was of my sister's dog on her boat. Just because you are in a rad place does not mean you will become the queen of Instagram. I do not have a personal photographer following you around. I am typically alone when I do cool things/see cool things and most of the time my first thought is not to take a picture.
Don't get me wrong, I love posting little cute things on my story, but sometimes it's nice to just sit in the moment and relish it. I thought this summer would be full of pictures of me eating trendy ice cream in front of a cool murals and getting cool Huji snaps at concerts. I am beginning to realize that I don't really like solo pictures of myself and maybe I can just put my phone away for a little while.
3. Not every day is going to be full of fun and crazy cool experiences.
I have spent a lot of time sitting on the couch with my sister's dog watching Jane the Virgin and I think that's ok. I also realized that fun experiences mean spending money and burning gas.
I have also recently gotten a waitressing job which fills my time in a different way. I saw this summer as a cool indie film where I randomly get tickets to music festivals and eat really good Greek food and become addicted to Kombucha. None of these things have happened and I'm kind of happy they haven't.
I enjoy working and I am happy that the days where I do cool things feel really special. Life will never be like a movie. I think I need to repeat that in my head for a while for it to truly sink in.
4. Summer makes you lazy.
Once you aren't really on a schedule anymore, your body starts to tell you that maybe camping out on the couch and eating pretzel crisps for the rest of your life is a good idea. Summer can be a black hole if you don't force yourself to do things. As someone who loves to create but hates the initiation of these activities, I love to talk myself into watching just one more episode.
I brought a lot of art supplies with me, expecting myself to paint and collage a lot while I am here. I also brought all of my fancy pencils, picturing myself on a bench with my sketchbook by an old church, perfecting my architecture illustration technique or something romantic like that.
I have painted once. My sketchbook is empty. I also wanted to actually learn how to play the mandolin that has been collecting dust in my bedroom at home. It is currently collecting dust in my car. I'm kind of failing. Maybe this article will hype me up a bit. But anyways, I think leaving the house is the first step. The house is a dangerous place if you aren't sleeping or cleaning.
5. Comparing your summer to your friends' is toxic. Stop that.
Get off Instagram.
I see you, pal. You're fawning over your friend's picture of her and her best friend on a gondola in Italy or bungee jumping off a bridge in New Zealand or some crap like that. If you're the girl in those pictures, congrats your summer rocked and I'm totally not putting you down.
However, we will all have those cool moments in our lives and it is so dangerous when all you do is sit around envying those highlights of someone else's life. And, hey, maybe someone is looking at your pictures right now saying you're so lucky for doing what you are doing and you don't realize how cool your life is.
Our culture has become about getting the most amazing picture and being the most interesting girl in the crowd. And yeah, FOMO is real, but you can combat that longing. Choose to be grateful for your experiences! Gratitude can totally block out the dangers of comparison.
Be happy for your friends who get to go on crazy summer adventures! They are your friends, after all! You'll get your chance to be the cool girl one day. I promise.
6. Try new things.
Say yes to things you may not normally say yes to. I am not telling you to do drugs. Drugs are bad. But if something sounds exciting and positive but maybe isn't something you'd typically do, say yes and see what happens. No fun things have happened when I have said no.
No is the "the end" word for a story that could be cool. Don't like Asian food but all of your friends are going to a sushi restaurant? Go because your friends are more important than your food preference and maybe you'll eat something new and like it. Talk to the person who is sitting next to you at the coffee shop, because you like their shirt and really want to know where it's from.
Listen to the album that the Instragram friend who isn't really your friend recommend on their story. Find a nearby walking trail and put your dog in the car and go. Go to that karaoke bar with your friends and sing Bohemian Rhapsody like you do when you're alone in your house. Get your hair cut the way you've always dreamed you've wanted it, even if your best friend Tamra told you bangs wouldn't look good on your face. Ignore Tamra for once. Read that book that has been sitting on your shelf.
Buy the shoes that have been in your cart that you think are a bit outrageous. Just do some new things and see what happens! Why not? the worst that can happen is you didn't like the experience and you can check it off the list of things you haven't done.
So now that my brain has dumped all of that out, let's go get some things done. It is awesome to talk about how great a summer could be, but it won't be great if we just talk about it.
Turn off Netflix. I'm going to try to. Life's too short to spend seven seasons of "New Girl" wondering if Nick and Jess (two people who don't exist) are really going to end up together. I mean, let's be real, in the end that's all we really cared about. It's great to watch people in a magic box ( a TV) do cool stuff, but wouldn't it be a lot more interesting if you were doing the cool stuff? Thanks for listening to me rant.