Wednesday, June 22, 2011

What is the Project?

The rules of the Project are simple, there is only one: Do it alone. 

The goals are two-fold: 1) Stay single for 6 months. I’ll reward myself at the end of it by allowing myself a date on New Year’s Eve – to seal the year with a kiss and celebrate the year to come. And 2) Make my way through my list of activities – steps, if you will, on the journey to being okay with spending my time alone. I can add to the list, I can repeat items, I can skip around, but I have to do them all. 

The steps:

The Book Store. Any easy start. The video suggested the library, but I’ve been needing to add to my own library anyway. My goal won’t be just to buy a book and leave. For the first time, I intend to linger. Find a comfortable chair, sit in the aisles paging through art books. 

The Coffee Shop. Another easy one. Lingering alone at the local Starbucks should suffice. With a book, a cup of coffee, and a good chair in the corner, I can sit in the quiet and watch the people filter in and out. 

“The Gym”. Well, the video suggested the gym, but I don’t have (or want) a membership so I’m going to go with what I would do if I were to exercise: a walk around Greenlake in Seattle. A 3 mile path surrounds the lake, where people walk, run, bike and skate. Most often in pairs or groups, but also alone, I think this will be the first time I feel like I’m really starting to push my comfort zone, but I’ll definitely just be dipping in my toes to test the water.

Public Transportation. Another suggestion from the video. I know a lot of people do this alone every day, but I don’t. When I do take a bus (I’ve never taken a train), it’s been to take a quick trip to work while my car’s in the shop, or with someone else. I think I’ll take the bus or train AS my destination, instead of to one. 

Church. I’m not terribly religious, but as my life has careened downward out of control, I’ve begun to pray. Another suggestion from the video, I think taking a Sunday to slip in the back pew of a church and tip my head amidst all the people – yet alone – would be good. 

Sit on a bench. Another one from the video. I’m thinking Seattle Center here, in the sun with a book, watching the people pass by. Kind of ala Forest Gump, which is admittedly dorky, but I think it offers up the chance to fall into an interesting conversation or two. I’m by no means shy.

The Woods. I fell in love with hiking while I was with Ben. I think it will be a good stretch to tackle this one alone. The quiet and solitude punctuated only by the occasional smile and nod at people passing the other direction. 

The Movies. This is a typical date activity, or for friends who are out and about, but I always thought that was so strange – you aren’t supposed to talk to them at all, and you can’t really even see them. I’m going to be stretching my comfort zone pretty good with this one none-the-less. 

Visit a Museum. Another typical couple/friend activity, this time I’ll be walking around among all the people, obviously alone.

Lunch. Simple, yet not. Nothing to really distract you or see here, you just eat. But I can’t rush through it, the point is to enjoy your own company.

Resist the Urge to Hang Out With Your Cellphone. This was in the video, though I know she was intending to mean “while you’re at lunch”, to encourage you to do what I mentioned above – enjoy your own company. I’m going to take this to the next level, because I believe that I am in some ways addicted to my friends as much as I am my relationships. I am going to spend a whole Saturday or Sunday – perhaps a whole weekend, untethered from my phone. No texts, no emails, no Facebook or Twitter. Easier said than done, this one is gonna be rough.

Visit An Unfamiliar City. I’m going to make the 4 to 5 hour trek to Portland alone. I was there once several years ago, and I wished I had more time to spend there exploring. I plan to trek the city alone for the day, walking through the parks, stopping in at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant for lunch. 

Dinner at a Restaurant with Linen and Silverware. Dinner. Alone. At a restaurant. Enough said. I think I’ll even try somewhere new. Somewhere nice. I’ll wear a dress.

Go to a Concert or Sporting Event. I love both of these things, but so seldom get to experience them because I’ve always relied on someone coming with me, and when they couldn’t make it or didn’t feel like going, I’d just give up and skip it. I’m going to make this one happen, even if its way outside my comfort zone.

The Coup de Gras: Dance at a Club. Until You’re Sweating. This is going to BY FAR be the hardest for me. Being able to do this will be how I know that I am where I need to be. If I can do this alone, I can do anything.

I have chosen to chronicle my journey on this blog because I think it will keep me accountable for making the changes I need to make and following through. If I think even one person is following my steps and rooting for me, or waiting to see what the outcome might be, or who even is standing where I’m standing and needs to feel like they’re not alone – maybe I’ll stick with it. 

If I do about 2 a month, I'll be able to complete all of them in my 6 month window. I'll be out dancing in time for my birthday and get my kiss on New Years.

My life needs to change. Despite what I’ve been trying to tell myself for the last 17 years, no one can change it except me.

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