This is your Public Service Announcement to do something for yourself, by yourself. It's OK to go eat at a restaurant alone. It's OK to go see a movie you want to see that nobody else wants to see. It's OK to lock the bathroom door so that you can give yourself a real bath (and maybe even a facial).
Embracing our independence is a beautiful thing. Spending time alone is imperative to your physical, psychologial, and social well-being. Our children and our partners benefit from it.
As our bathroom renovation is nearing completion, Steve and I have been thinking about additional improvements to our home and purchasing a piece of artwork, depicting a scene from Fredericksburg is high on our list. Knowing that various painting classes happen around town, I teased him, saying, I could paint one as a cost-saving measure. When I saw that a Wine & Design class was being offered at Brock's Riverside Grill, I signed up by myself. Seats were filling up quickly, so I didn't think about asking anyone to join me, but I'd be lying if I didn't say I was nervous about it from the moment I hit "purchase" on the on-line order form.
The class was set up on the lower patio at Brock's and since we were painting a picture of the railroad bridge, I kept walking toward the end of the patio to get a good view of the actual bridge. I was invited by two women to join them at their table (it turned out they had come separately, but knew each other). I loved how one of them was very forthcoming on how nervous she was, how she's never painted, etc. In many ways, it made the rest of us relax and gave us all permission to feel OK about our own anxieties. The three of us had a great time helping one another and laughing along the way; not knowing how to paint turned out to be a universal bonding experience.
And, here's the funny thing. I almost didn't go! Does that happen to you? Do you gather the courage to sign up for something and then back out? Sometimes the anxiety of going into a new situation where I don't know what will happen or who will be there keeps me at home. Attending a new church, volunteering at my kids' schools, and attending events have all had their starts and stops for me. I'm an extroverted, people-person, yet I'm my own worst enemy too.
Steve has watched me do this dance with myself for over 20 years now. Every time we moved to a new town, he'd watch me try to establish friendships, memberships into community organizations, etc. A "Classic Gin" move is to load the calendar up with events and various volunteer opportunities, but when the time and date arrives, I start the back and forth of "I don't know, should I go? What do you think?" I have to give Steve credit for putting up with this cyclical behavior and I thank him for riding through the anxiety wave with me while I decide what to do.
I find decisions are much easier to make when you reach out to the one who knows you best. That person can call you out on your crap and get you in a better frame of mind. Steve, who is excellent at getting to the point, will simply say, "Why are you still here?? You can leave...without them (pointing towards the kids)...like, right now!!"
Going to Brock's that evening was such a good lesson for me, an important reminder that I need to push myself do things for me, for my well-being. If I go somewhere and it doesn't work out, it's not a big deal. I should manage my expectations about the big stuff versus the small stuff anyway. I enjoyed the painting experience in that I learned something and had a good time too. Plus, my daughter thinks I painted a masterpiece and would like to hang it in her room.
Get out there and explore. It's about the journey, not the destination.