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  • Writer's pictureAmy Leggett

Party of One...And That's OK!

This post is a little different than my usual travel blog, but it is relevant because it involves going about this life solo in all aspects, including travel. As I have mentioned in earlier blogs, I recently got divorced after 25 years of marriage. A lot of changes come with that, but the most significant one is learning how to do life solo after years of being accompanied by a partner and family.

In the months after my separation, I had a sense of freedom. I only had to worry about myself after years of trying to meet someone else's expectation, taking care of everyone else's needs (which I was very happy to do for all those years), and not having to worry about many of the things that ultimately led to the disconnect in my marriage. I realized I had lost myself along the way and was excited to take some time to rediscover parts of myself that had been neglected. I also focused on reconnecting with friendships that had not received the attention they deserved when I was struggling with my emotions and the crumbling of my marriage.

In full transparency, after this initial feeling of relief, reality set in. Coming to terms with all that was lost and all the future plans that will never happen was sad. I realized that, at least for now, I truly am on this journey solo. My daughters are truly amazing and of course they have been supportive during this whole period, but they are adults and have their own paths to forge. Honestly, sometimes this realization that it is just me, myself and I feels liberating and sometimes it feels scary. But I know that this is where I need to be right now.

One thing that has been the most difficult about being single as a middle aged woman (or just a single person in general) is realizing how much of life (and society, media, etc.) is focused on being part of a couple. Of course, there is nothing wrong with wanting companionship and love in your life. I am open to that if it happens to cross my path again, but I am not actively seeking it at the moment. I want to experience life on my own terms and in my own way at this phase of my life. But because of the emphasis that is placed on being part of a couple, it is hard not to equate value with having someone by my side. It is easy to let myself feel "less than" because I have not "been chosen" by another to be their life partner. But the growth comes by being ok with that and realizing that I am choosing not to "be chosen". I have learned that my value comes from the unique qualities I bring to the party and not who is coming to the party with me.

Taking some time to live life alone is so important. Being solo gives you an opportunity to do some deep soul searching and find out what is important to you. What things do YOU want to prioritize, what goals do YOU have for yourself, how do YOU want to live your life, what kind of future do YOU envision? Not that you can't do this with someone else, but then you will obviously need to compromise and answer those questions considering the answers for a "WE" and not a "ME". If you find yourself single in midlife it is a unique opportunity to reassess your life and take a moment to really think about these things with no other opinions or distractions. Once you figure it out and start living your life in alignment with these things, any one who comes into your life as a friend or a partner will only enhance the vision you created. Failing to take the necessary time to dig deep and do the work to discover your authentic self is wasting a precious opportunity.

That being said, it takes a lot of fortitude and confidence to stick to the solo journey. I am, and have always been, a fiercely independent person. I enjoy my alone time and have no problem doing things by myself. But I would be lying if I said that it wasn't hard sometimes. Going into a restaurant and saying I am a "Party of One" can feel awkward. I do travel with friends often, but they are not always available when I want to travel so I do take a lot of trips by myself. Traveling by myself is fun, but there are always moments I wish I had that "built in" travel partner to share those amazing experiences. Sometimes it would be nice just to have someone sitting quietly on the other end of the couch or binge-watching a great show with me. Yes, there are definitely times when I feel lonely. But there is a difference between being alone and being lonely. There were plenty of times I felt lonely even when I had that partner, so being coupled up is no guarantee that you avoid that lonely feeling. Now, the occasional lonely feeling passes and I am left with a realization that I am happy living the authentic life I have created for myself.

Choosing to be single will require you to often defend or explain your choice. We are constantly bombarded with media messages that finding that "perfect partner" should be our primary focus. Well-meaning people will ask if you are dating and tell you "not to worry" because you will find someone else when the time is right. But what if you don't want that? What is wrong with wanting to enjoy life's journey surrounded by good friends and family? What if you want to keep your independence? Why is staying single not a choice that is more prevalent and accepted?

It is important that we begin to normalize being single, regardless of age or gender. We should honor someone's choice to take some (or all) of their life journey as a solo traveller. You can be a "Party of One" and that's perfectly ok!

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