After breaking up with a person who had been my partner for almost seven years, I knew that my life would now be drastically different. I wanted to embrace the opportunity to be with myself and to understand who I am and how I act in the absence of a relationship. Of course, this wasn’t the only time in my life that I was single. I hadn’t had a serious relationship before this one, and I was quite content with my solo lifestyle. But that was seven years ago, when I was practically a teenager. I had grown up so much and been through some seriously life-altering events since then.
I decided to make a list. “Things to do now that I’m single.” I’m one to take a lot of random classes, so I had things like pottery, woodworking, and swing dancing on the list. I started doing yoga. I reached out to a bunch of people whom I hadn’t spoken to in years and caught up with them. The hardest part for me, though, was the act of simply leaving my apartment to go out by myself for no reason. Meeting a friend was easy, there was commitment involved. Same with a class. If I paid, I went. But deciding to go outside for no reason at all other than to enjoy myself was unbelievably hard.
I broke through by choosing a place. I wanted to go to the Met alone. I live in New York City. I have access to great museums. I should be able to get up, get ready, and go to the Met by myself. And to be frank, I don’t like going to museums with other people. You have to follow along with what they want to see and listen to their unfunny commentary about how they “could’ve done that.” Having the freedom to wander and discover parts of the museum alone was an adventure I wanted, and one that I was excited about! I chose a date and time. I was going on Sunday. It was a rainy day. Perfect.
Finally, to give myself some sort of accountability, I made a plan to meet up with my cousin afterwards. This was the first step to getting myself out of the house alone. If I can do this activity, I can eventually do more, plan more, maybe even travel alone! The world was waiting.
Sunday came and I got up. It took some time to get myself ready, but then I realized I was living by my own rules. I can take as long as I wanted to get ready! I can grab a coffee! It didn’t matter. I got out of the house and was on my way to the Met.
When I got there, I realized it was a rainy Sunday in the city, so the Met would be packed. I normally follow the same route every time I visit, so I made a decision to try and follow any hallway or staircase I wasn’t used to, trying to find areas where there weren’t any crowds. Through this technique, I found myself in an amazing Asian art section, complete with an outdoor scene with koi ponds and pagodas. It was beautiful and I had no idea it was even there! I continued my path of discovery, finding vessels and ancient paintings, tiles and textiles, all intriguing and new to me.
After a while of wandering, I suddenly realized that I was still allowed to have fun. I didn’t have to take art so seriously now just because I was alone. I was laughing to myself as I saw a room full of Persian rugs and thought about how they looked like the rugs I was just looking up on Wayfair.
I found myself in a room of portraits of young women, all of whom were fierce! I found myself internally shouting “Yas queen!” “Work!” “Get it!” (a la Jonathan Van Ness) at all of their amazing poses and fierce fashions.
I gawked at the Heavenly Bodies exhibit, which showcased fashion inspired by the grandeur of the Catholic church. Growing up Catholic, this was familiar and hard hitting to me. I absolutely reveled at their level of “extra” and felt so grateful to finally connect with a faith which I had felt little connection to in recent years.
When I first got to the museum, I thought that I would feel sad or become very introspective and lonely, but in the end I found myself having a good time and simply enjoyed being in my own company. I didn’t have to have an audience to make myself laugh. I wasn’t connecting in the artwork in the way that I imagined people do in art museums, but maybe I can connect in my own way. Maybe I can enjoy art but still have fun! Maybe I can be alone and not be sad.
Even after that experience, I’ve struggled with taking myself out, but it’s something that I know I can work on and get better at. I’m excited to see new places, experience my own company, and learn about myself in new ways. Life can be tough, but sometimes the most unfortunate life situations take you to places that you don’t expect.