Last weekend, I went on a trip with a group created by a friend of mine. Every so often he arranges a hiking trail and sends out a message to different people, and whoever wants can join in. Over the years since he first created it, a group of regulars had emerged, along with a few one or two timers. I had gone on many hikes with my friend and a few others, but this was my first time with his hiking group.
My main reason for going was sleeping under the stars. I have done it a few times over the years, but it has been a long while and I wanted to do it again. And it was amazing, seeing all the stars and the Milky Way that are usually hidden by the city lights. In the morning we went on a short hike and just lounged around during the trail in the desert.
It was such a cleansing experience, just being in nature, surrounded by nothing but rocks, sand, and mountains. There was no reception in any of our phones and we had no choice but to give in to the tranquility and stillness. In a world filled with endless technology and screens, where we can barely disconnect from our phones, it is so crucial to just go offline for a bit. Lift our heads, open our eyes and just see what life has to offer, be present in the moment. It doesn’t have to be as extreme as driving deep into the desert, but I think that it is so important to replenish our souls and clean our minds without any screens or social media.
But besides that, I think the biggest takeaway for me was how much I was content with myself, just being. Where once I would feel awkward and shy, I felt comfortable and completely whole with myself. I used to feel such pressure when I was younger, to try and fit in and find someone to be with. And if I didn’t, I would literally crawl under my skin.
On this trip I didn’t know most of the people, and even the ones I did weren’t close friends of mine, and I haven’t seen the majority of them in years. At first I found myself in a moment of “okay, now what?” – just standing there, looking around at the people, and realizing for the first time, that I only knew a handful and wasn’t sure what to do with myself.
But that only lasted for a short moment, and once I got over the initial shock, I managed to relax and just let go. So instead of trying desperately to “fit in” and find someone to be with so I didn’t have to be one my own, and wonder what people must think – I just lay my bag down, spread out my sleeping mat, and just sat down. Once I got into that comfortable state of mind, where I’m okay with my own company, I managed to find “my place” within the group.
I got to know many new people, and some of them were truly a great pleasure to be around, and I also got to reconnect with others that I haven’t spoken to in years.
Having said that, the social aspect of this hike, wasn’t my main reason for going. It wasn’t a conscious decision or thought, not at first at least. It was as simple as talking to a friend, saying “hey, lets go stargazing in the desert”, and then just doing it. I didn’t give it much thought until I was actually out in the camping site surrounded by others, suddenly realizing, ‘oh right, I gotta socialize.’
Or, do I?
Because as bad as it sounds, I didn’t really go to meet more people. I have enough friends, and I suck at keeping in touch as it is, so what’s the real point of diving in deep with people I’ll probably only see if I ever go on another hike with this hiking group? Don’t get me wrong, it was a great bonus, and I had some great conversations. But while there, I suddenly realized – ‘hey, I’m also good in my own company’ – even when I’m surrounded by other people who are mingling with each other.
That thought would have never been my reality if I wasn’t single and learned to embrace and feel content with myself. For so many years I would feel that awkwardness and pressure of being seen on my own. I would cringe just at the thought of sitting somewhere on my own, or going for a walk – especially if it was in a larger group. I know that many others feel that way too, and the key for overcoming it, is changing your state of mind.
During one of our walks through the desert trail, I found myself on my own, with a group ahead of me and another behind me. Chatting, laughing and having fun. And for a moment I found myself wondering if I should try to join in, if I should feel bothered or discouraged by the fact that I am “alone”.
Once upon a time, I would think ‘shit, what will people think? I probably look pathetic.’ but at that moment, all I could think was ‘this is a perfect moment.’ just feeling comfortable in my own skin and company, just enjoying the movement of my body, the incredible views around me and the complete calmness of my mind.
And it is okay to feel strange and awkward, it’s okay to have no clue what to do – and once you release that pressure from your mind, once you embrace the fact that it is normal to feel like an alien sometimes, you make way for ease of mind, where you can just be present in the moment and allow change to happen – in your thoughts, feelings and mindset.
I truly believe that it is crucial to work on being comfortable in your own company, learn to not recoil from being alone, even within a group. Not only for your own growth and self love, but also to truly fit in and find your place in social situations. Because once you do find that true sense of comfort within yourself, it will be so much easier for you to just let go and open up in a more organic way.
Single life has taught me many things about life and about myself, and I think this is one of the most important lesson of them all – whether you are sitting at a cafe, lounging at the beach, walking around a mall or market, or even hanging with a group of friends at a bar, party or on a hiking trail – don’t over think and don’t be afraid to have moments where you’re “alone”. Because the feeling of being sufficed in your own company, is the most rewarding and empowering one there is.
I don’t chase after people anymore. If they like spending time with me they will do so. If not, I’m content in my own company.Barry S.
only chase your own approval and acceptance
All the best,