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Riding Solo: How to Live Fearlessly in Your Own Company

Riding Solo

When was the last time you went out into the world and did something totally alone? For many of us, just contemplating the idea may be daunting, and perhaps even a little bit embarrassing. Somehow, the solo outing can seem to be an experience reserved only for the lonesome. Enter, visions of Bridget Jones crying to “All By Myself” with a bottle of wine as a makeshift microphone.

We’ve decided it’s time to start a new narrative. Embarking on a solo excursion isn’t anything to be ashamed of. It’s liberating, rejuvenating, and often extremely therapeutic. Don’t believe us? We’ll prove it! Every month we’ll be sharing a new story from real women who are learning to explore the world as their own plus-one.

Whether it's a weekend road trip down the California coast, a life-changing transition to college, or moving to a new city, these stories reflect all the highs, lows, and learnings that happen when you venture out in the world solo.

Do you have your own solo story to share? Remember to tag us on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #ridingsolo!

Motherhood on Her Own Terms

Motherhood on Her Own Terms

Alyssa Garrison is a solo, millennial mom by choice.

By Alyssa Garrison, as told to Cortney Clift.

My daughter Summer was born in the middle of a snowstorm. Her birth didn’t exactly go as planned, but then again, nothing about Summer’s arrival was ordinary.

Nine months before this moment, I boldly decided to venture into motherhood solo. As I held my daughter for the first time, it was immediately and resoundingly obviously that while perhaps my journey to this moment had been unconventional, it was the right decision for me.

Both of my parents were young while raising my sister and I. They were in their early 20s when I was born. They weren’t the parents who sat on the edge of the pool; they swam alongside us. They were strapped into the seat next to us on roller coasters, always ready to experience new adventures. They were so energetic and full of life throughout my childhood and I always knew I wanted to replicate that kind of upbringing with my own family.

As I got older, I made a promise to myself: If I couldn't find someone who is legitimately interested in starting a family with me by the time I turn 27 I would explore doing it alone. 27 is admittedly still relatively young to have kids by today’s standards, but there are times in life when you know what feels right for you.

When my 27th birthday eventually came around, I found myself in a relationship with someone who was terrified of anything having to do with kids. At one point, he told me I wasn't allowed to discuss kids anymore at all. About a month after the pivotal birthday, he and I broke up and I decided it was time to make good on my promise.

In December of 2017, I began tracking my ovulation. I stopped taking birth control, and finally, I went to consult with a doctor about my plan to get pregnant. I expected her to try to talk me out of it. Instead, she told me about all her other patients who were exploring a similar route. We went over my options, did some fertility testing, and then she gave me the go-ahead to start trying. After I left her office, it all suddenly felt very real.

As I weighed the various pathways to motherhood, adoption was one option I thought long and hard about. But it turned out that adopting a child can be an extremely difficult route to take as a young, single woman who is also self-employed. I run a blog; it's hard enough to rent an apartment with that job title, let alone convince someone that I'm in a position to parent. In the end, I decided to enlist a sperm donor and self-inseminate in lieu of a more clinical experience.

I was prepared to fire off some awkward text messages when a friend of mine surprisingly volunteered to be my donor. I told him about how I needed to try to find someone by my next cycle when he chimed in with, "Well, maybe it could be me." He was someone I planned to ask, but I figured we’d have to sit down and have a long conversation about it. Instead, it all felt really natural and organic. He told me, "I've been thinking a lot about this and I want to help you.” His generosity turned out to be the first of so many displays of support my friends showed me during this time in my life. Their encouragement meant the world to me, but there were still two people who needed a bit more convincing: my parents.

When I initially told my mom this was something I was considering, she thought it a spontaneous and ridiculous notion. Then I told her about the doctor’s visit and securing a donor. As the logistics began to fall into place, her support grew exponentially. My dad was harder to persuade. Then, in early 2018, both of my parents came to visit me in Toronto. They saw my apartment and how I live my life. When they left, my dad told my mom, "I didn't think Alyssa was ready, but now I actually think she can do this.”

I ended up getting pregnant shortly after that visit — coincidentally, on Mother’s Day. I was alone in my house when I took the pregnancy test. As soon as I saw the positive result I happy-cried for a long time and then I called my parents to share the good news. At that moment, this wild decision felt so much more right than I ever could have imagined.

I expected to struggle with bouts of loneliness throughout my pregnancy, but for the most part, I felt really strong and powerful and like I was finally in the right place doing the right thing for me. I had a different girlfriend accompany me to each of my ultrasound appointments. Friends would come over to help me cook or walk my dogs whenever I had hard days. Those nine months showed me that when you’re brave enough to ask for help, it will come. It felt like such a special experience to share with my “chosen family.”

My daughter, Summer finally arrived on January 25, 2019. Because she was breech, her birth wasn’t the tranquil home birth I hoped for, but she was born happy and healthy and that’s all that matters. The first few days we spent at home together felt like a magical haze. I couldn’t believe she was mine to keep; I kept waiting for someone to come and take her back. Much of our time together so far has been idyllic, but that’s not to say it’s all been easy.

As a single mother who is also self-employed, I am constantly torn between spending time with Summer and rushing to check my email. I'm still struggling to find the balance of what is work time and what is parenting time. It's amazing that for most of her life, I'm going to be able to work from home and spend a lot of time with her, but I’ll also never really be able to fully take time off.

When people find out that I am a single mother, they will often comment on how hard it must be. To a point they’re right; it is hard at times, but having a baby with a partner can be hard too. It's just hard in a different way. Right now, I don’t have a partner and so all of my focus gets to be on Summer and becoming the best mom I can be. Of course, there are times when it would be great to be able to have some extra help, but I don't think having a partner would necessarily make things better overall.

A few weeks ago, I finally summoned the courage to take a bath with Summer. It’s something I’d been really wanting to try, but I was nervous to do it alone. What if I dropped her? What if she pooped in the bath and I had no idea how to deal with the situation? Then one day, everything clicked. I told myself: "One of us might cry and it might get messy, but we’ll get through it."

Once we got into the water, I rested her on my legs. She looked up at me and it was simply the sweetest, most perfect moment – a sparkling highlight of my experience as a mother so far. It felt like everything I'd been waiting for for so many years had come together into this moment: just my daughter and I together in our own little world.

Alyssa Garrison is the founder of Random Acts of Pastel. You can follow her adventures in motherhood and more on her blog or her Instagram.

Cycling America Solo

Cycling America Solo

In 2011, Olivia Round left home for the biggest adventure of her life. For 5,000 miles she biked across America solo learning about herself and her country along the way.

On August 1, 2011, 22-year-old Olivia Round left home to go for a bike ride. Though adventuring on two wheels was nothing new for Round, this time she ventured a little farther than usual: 5,000 miles farther, to be exact. For four months, Round cycled solo across the United States, pedaling through stunning American landscapes like Wyoming’s Wind River, the Colorado Rockies, and the Ozark Mountains in Missouri, before ending her ride in Florida.

For our March edition of Riding Solo, we caught up with Round to hear more about her pilgrimage, the emotional reason she felt compelled to take this trip alone, and some unfiltered reflections about the realities of solitary life on the road as a woman.

B+C: Tell us a bit about why you felt motivated to go on a solo trip across the United States and why you wanted to do it on a bike.

Round: The bicycle touring idea hit me out of nowhere. I remember I was riding in a car in January 2011 when I saw a man flash past the window on a bike. I wondered where he was riding to, and then it occurred to me that bicycles can take us as far as we want to go. Suddenly that’s all I wanted to do: ride my bicycle to the Atlantic. I’d never felt such a burning, committed desire like that before.

I’d grown up on an island in Alaska. Even though I was 21 years old and attending university in Oregon, I hadn’t seen much of the country I belonged to. I spent the next six months researching and preparing for my adventure.

B+C: What were your primary fears going into this trip?

Round: Fear was actually the most important motivation behind this trip. At the time, I harbored a strong distrust of men. I’d grown up learning about the prevalence of sexual assault in our society. I remember in middle school health class I learned terrifying facts, like that most rapes are committed by someone the victim knows, and one out of every four women in America is sexually assaulted before the age of 18.* Those are staggering statistics, and I felt very threatened by them.

I’d never been physically assaulted or abused, but I was still terrified that it would happen to me or someone I loved. By the time I was 21, I was tired of feeling afraid and anxious, of experiencing panic attacks and fantasizing about worst case scenarios. So I made a deal with myself: If I could ride all the way to Florida by myself, then I was going to release my fears forever.

B+C: How did you prepare mentally and emotionally?

Round: To get my mind ready for solo travel, I practiced something I like to call “curbing my imagination.” At that point in my life, I wasn’t able to push away negative thoughts or fears; they would just push back harder. Instead, I designed creative, positive outcomes for each of my worst-case scenarios. For example, if I was walking down the street and a man yelled something out of a truck window at me, it would trigger a whole flood of fear: What if that man wants to hurt me? What if I can’t outrun him? What if he has a gun? I’d stop myself, and I’d curb my imagination. I’d design a simple, positive ending, like being rescued by the police or escaping from the assailant, and then I’d turn my attention to something else. The goal was to keep my mind on a positive track instead of a negative one. Bad things might happen, but I knew that worrying about them wouldn’t help.

B+C: What did an average day on the road look like?

Round: I’d wake up in my tent and feel this immediate rush of relief that the night was over. Sleeping alone in a tent is still hard for me! I’d crawl out of my tent, wash my face with a little water from my water bottle, change into my cycling clothes, and eat a peanut butter honey sandwich or protein bar... or both. Then, after packing everything up and drinking lots of water, I’d hit the road.

I’d cycle all day, but I’d take long breaks anywhere. I knew I may never do this same trip again, so I stopped and savored beautiful places whenever I wanted to. My average daily ride was 47 miles, which isn’t very far for a touring cyclist. I’ve met other bicyclists who average 100 miles per day. But that’s one of the perks of traveling alone: You get to go at your own pace, on your own schedule.

I always tried to reach my destination before dark. Usually, it was a campground, but sometimes it was a person’s house or a hostel. Evenings could be tough for me because I was fatigued from a long day’s ride and nervous about nightfall. That’s when I really had to practice mindfulness, curbing my imagination, calming breaths, etc. Every tool in my arsenal was needed to keep me from panicking when I was alone. But with practice, it got much easier.

B+C: Can you tell us about an experience that comes to mind as a major highlight of the trip?

Round: About halfway through my bicycle trip, I pedaled up and over the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. I cycled up to the summit of the Trail Ridge Road, which is the highest paved highway in the United States at just over 12,000 feet above sea level, and I felt euphoric. My whole body felt like it was made out of glittering sunlight. I stood at the edge and looked down at the mountains and valleys, at this massive, gorgeous world, and I understood that no matter how scared I got in the future, some part of me would always remember this. I’d remember what I’m capable of, and that, beyond all reason, the world loves and supports me: I’m worthy of feeling this good, of accomplishing this much.

B+C: What surprised you most about the journey, overall?

Round: How supportive the universe is and how lucky I am. This trip was a way for me to accept that I am worth it and that good things can just show up in my life, and it’s okay to take advantage of them. People were so kind to me, offering me food or a night in their guest room. Strangers offered to give me rides or escorted me on their own bicycles. When I wasn’t distracted by my fears, I was amazed at how supported I felt. The more I paid attention to what was happening around me, instead of what was happening in my head, the more the world seemed like a really great place.

B+C: What advice do you have for women who are interested in going on a solo cycling adventure like yours?

Round: My number-one resource for bicycle travel is the Adventure Cycling Association, a nonprofit whose mission is to inspire, empower, and connect people to travel by bicycle. They sell awesome maps for bike routes all over the country and have a fabulous selection of articles to help rookies get on the road. I also recommend reading some interviews with women travelers on my website. I interview women about overcoming their fears in order to travel alone. Their stories are awesome. On that note, if you or someone you love would like to be interviewed, please drop me a line. Sharing our experiences empowers all of us!

B+C: What did you learn about yourself over the four-month trip?

Round: By the time I reached Florida, I didn’t recognize myself. I’d done things during the bicycle trip that I didn’t know I was capable of. I had to acknowledge that my fears were more complicated than just being afraid of men: I was afraid of intimacy. I was afraid of being seen more deeply than I could see myself. And I was afraid of my own power. I think that’s a pretty common realization, but I’m grateful that I got started on that journey of self-discovery at such a young age. I didn’t have any answers about who I was by the time I reached Florida, but I had better questions, and that was a great place to start.

Round is currently working on publishing a memoir about her cross-country bike tour. For updates on that and to see what else she’s up to check out her website.

*Brit + Co could not confirm this exact statistic. For current statistics on sexual assault please review this report by RAINN.

Finding Zen on the California Zephyr

Finding Zen on the California Zephyr

Thanks to an unexpected opportunity, one woman discovers the magic of solo train travel.

Is it just us or does it feel like it’s been winter for approximately a decade? With 2019 serving up record-low temps and a generous helping of snowstorms, it’s just about that time when many of us start to go stir crazy. If a mid-winter getaway isn’t in the near future, how about a dose of armchair travel? For the February edition of Riding Solo, we’re bringing you a story from B+C’s social media manager Kara Schab. A couple of years ago, Schab was invited to take a cross-country train trip with Amtrak. Here Schab shares a photo essay from her time aboard the California Zephyr as well as a few words on what it was like to go about the adventure on her own.

Just before Thanksgiving in 2017, I was contacted by an Amtrak employee who found me via Instagram. She said she thought my photography style was refreshing and had a proposition for me: a free, long-distance train trip across the country, in exchange for capturing cool imagery along the way. The offer came at a time in my life when I needed a new challenge and adventure. I had just ended a four-year relationship and almost all of my freelance contracts had come to an end. A fresh perspective felt necessary. Did I want to take solo trip across the country? For work? YES!

I chose to ride the California Zephyr, a route that sweeps magnificently through the heart of both the Rockies and the Sierra Nevadas. I hopped aboard in Washington, DC, and traveled through iconic American cities including Chicago, Denver, and Salt Lake City.

View Slideshow

All photos taken by Kara Schab of Right Foot Creative, LLC for Amtrak. To read more about Kara’s train trip head over to her blog.

In the second installment of Riding Solo (originally published August 2018) we partnered with Cotton to bring you three new stories centered around summer getaways. Here we're sharing what it's like to be solo during wedding season, a video diary from a California road trip, and an essay on the sometimes not-so-easy transition to college life.

How to Attend a Wedding Solo

How to Attend a Wedding Solo

Three women report back on what it was like to attend a wedding without a plus one.

Does anything have the power to make single people feel more single than going to a wedding alone? We asked three ladies with summer weddings on the books to attend solo and report back. It turns out the dreaded RSVP without a plus one isn’t actually so bad (especially if you're wearing a cotton dress that keeps you cool and comfortable — like two of our three wedding-guest ladies actually did!). In fact, it might just be the secret to successfully sailing through wedding season.

Tell us about the wedding!

The wedding was Palm Springs on a six-acre estate nestled under the San Jacinto mountain. It was an action-packed weekend starting with a taco and margarita bar on Friday. The wedding was on Saturday and it ended with a pool brunch on Sunday. So, I wasn’t just gearing up for a solo evening, I was gearing up for a weekend-long solo adventure.

Have you ever been to a wedding solo before?

I had a long-term boyfriend when the “attending weddings” age began in my early 20’s. I’ve been to more weddings than I can count over the past five years – all of them with a date. I only recently became single which was why I was riding solo to this wedding.

Describe how you felt going into the day.

I was excited to take a trip by myself and to be on my own time. I was also nervous to attend the actual wedding alone because I knew it would be an intimate wedding full of couples. I was also dreading the thought of being in the Palm Springs desert sun as it was estimated to be 112 degrees that day.

Being single at a wedding means you not only want to be comfortable, you also want to feel beautiful and confident as you dance alone. Luckily, I chose a flowy cotton dress that was soft, breathable, and didn’t show my sweat! Life sometimes makes you uncomfortable, take what you can into your own hands and wear something that makes you feel good!

Was there any part of the day you actually found to be more enjoyable as a solo attendee?

I actually really liked getting ready by myself. I decided it would be a full “me day,” even though I wasn’t the one getting married. I got up early, did some yoga, got a massage, and laid by the pool, all before I even started getting ready for the main event.

What did you learn from this experience?

I learned that it’s ok to attend events where the status quo is to bring a date. I paid more attention to the bride & groom and all the thoughtful details they put into their big day. I was able to take the weekend at my own pace and do the things I wanted to do throughout the day.

Would you go to a wedding solo again?

Yes! It was empowering to make my own decisions, dance by myself, and spark up conversations with strangers. I also reminded myself to stay present and in the moment. Besides taking a few photos, I made sure not to hide behind my phone and the social media world when things started feeling uncomfortable. I breathed through it, put on a smile, embraced the awkward feeling and turned it into a beautiful memory of how I overcame it.

Tell us about the wedding!

I've known Christine (the bride) since first grade and we've been best friends ever since. When she asked me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding, of course I said yes! The wedding was in Waterford, Ireland where her mother's side of the family lives. It was a glorious Irish affair.

Have you been to a wedding solo before?

I have! Solo is my preferred way to attend weddings, especially if I'm a bridesmaid or have some other responsibility for the day. I've always been unattached and the last thing I want to do is make a friend of mine wait around by themselves while I'm off taking pictures or convincing the DJ to play the Hawaii Five-O theme song.

Describe how you felt going into the day.

I was a little anxious and also super excited going into the day. I was in Ireland to stand by the side of my best friend on her wedding day! How can you not be excited for that?

How did attending solo work to your advantage?

I found it so much easier to mingle and catch up with people! I was also able to tack on a solo trip around Ireland after the wedding.

What did you learn from this experience?

Planning [to go to] a wedding in another country is hard work. There's so much more at play when you're worried about flights, exchange rates, jet lag, your passport, international data plans, making sure that you packed everything you need for the wedding, etc. And I was simply an attendee. I can only imagine the extra stress the bride and groom were feeling as they had to deal with all that plus so much more.

Tell us about the wedding.

The wedding was back in rural Ohio where I grew up. The groom and I grew up together and have remained close friends since we graduated in 2009.

Have you ever been to a wedding solo before?

I have not! This was a first time for me. I used to have a designated male friend to take to weddings like this, but he has since got a girlfriend.

How often do you do things by yourself?

I do things alone a lot! Since moving to NYC in 2015, I've come to love the alone time I have as I'm constantly surrounded by people.

Describe how you felt going into the day.

I had so much anxiety going to the event that I asked my chauffeur (AKA my mother) to stop and grab a drink with me before the ceremony.

How about by the end of the day?

At the end of the night, it was such a warm feeling to see that the only thing that had really changed between my school friends and me was our area codes.

Was there any part of the day you actually found to be more enjoyable as a solo attendee?

I LOVED the ability to chat freely with people I hadn't seen in years without having to feel like I was excluding someone else or not being attentive.

What did you learn from this experience?

I learned that being single and going to a wedding alone does not mean you'll feel alone. It is almost as if I found this new avenue of independence showing up to a function with old friends and not basing my life or conversations around who I was seeing, but instead getting to let old friends in to see who I have become since we've parted ways.

How to Go on a Road Trip Solo

How to Go on a Road Trip Solo

One woman cruises solo down the California Coast.

Packing up and hitting the open road is an iconic summer pastime, but it’s one many ladies might skip without someone riding shotgun. Brit + Co’s senior designer Marisa Kumtong recently decided she was up for the challenge of having her own Thelma and Louise moment – even though she had no Thelma. On a weekend-long, solo road trip down California’s Pacific Coast Highway, Kumtong discovered some epic nature, one of the kitschiest hotels in America, and all the ups and downs that come with traveling alone.

"This whole trip has been incredible. It was, at times, challenging. I’m not really used to traveling solo or being alone for a whole weekend, but honestly it was so peaceful […] I would totally do it again."

Heading to College Solo

Heading to College Solo

Emery Bergman reflects on the realities of her freshman year at Cornell University.

Leaving home for college is often one of the most important and exciting moments in a young adult’s life. But why is nobody talking about the fact that sometimes that transition is also just *really* hard? Late last year, Emery Bergman inadvertently did just that by posting a YouTube video in which she gets real about feeling lonely during her first semester at Cornell University.

Now at the close of her freshman year, Bergman reflects on her first year away from home and what’s changed since she posted that viral video back in October.

My parents met in college and the rest of my extended family is really into their respective universities. In my experience, when adults ask you about college, it often turns into them reminiscing about their own college memories. Their college stories led me to high expectations for my own experience. I assumed I would feel the same enthusiasm for my university once I made the transition, but it didn’t quite work out that way.

My build-up to my college started during my sophomore year of high school, and was followed with endless badgering about AP classes, SAT and ACT prep, and refining my application list. I had a rocky application process. I was rejected from my early decision school and really had to rethink what I wanted out of my college experience. I got into Cornell off the waitlist (relatively late as well), so by the time my first semester came around, I already felt out of place.

I had no idea what to expect. What kind of people would I meet? How would I fare in such a high-intensity environment? I’m a fine arts major and a massive goofball — not exactly the norm at Cornell.

All of these factors became rather overwhelming throughout my first semester. For a while, I didn’t know if I would ever find my place or my people at my new school. Since I'd had the same social circle since freshman year of high school, I was pretty rusty at the whole “making new friends” thing, and I immediately felt lost and frustrated. It felt like people around me were making friends so easily, while I couldn’t get past the “Where are you from?” stage. I didn’t totally get along with a lot of people I met, and the surface-level exchanges left me feeling homesick for the relationships I was already missing.

I started to spent a lot of my time on social media first semester, but after a while, I realized it only made me feel worse. Seeing pictures and videos of my friends from home having a blast with their new college friends led to me feeling down on myself. I immediately compared what I saw on social media to my own situation and felt like even more of an outcast. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. How was it that everyone I knew seemed to be doing just fine but I couldn’t find my place?

I decided to translate my frustration into art and made a video highlighting everything I was feeling. While I’d originally created it just for homework, after I put it on YouTube, it went viral with more than 230,000 views. Soon, I started receiving messages from all of my friends from home as well as random students all over the country who told me they felt the same exact way. Not only did it help me feel less alone, it also made me realize that I had unfair expectations of what my college transition would be like.

Hoping that I would magically click with every person I met was unrealistic. Expecting my college social life to be instantly perfect was unrealistic. I came to understand that making friends is an active process. It really requires you to go out of your way to initiate interactions over a long period of time, and that's okay.

Slowly but surely, I became closer with those around me. I started connecting with people who lived in my dorm and students in my major. By the end of my first semester, I really felt as though I’d formed some budding friendships, but I knew there was still room to grow.

When second semester came around, so did Greek life’s “rush” week. I always thought sororities were shallow and superficial and that they pit women against each other rather than uniting them. But my mom had been part of Greek life and was really passionate about me at least trying it out.

Overall, I didn’t enjoy rush. It was heartbreaking to watch so many girls struggle with rejection. But now, I totally enjoy being part of a sorority. I’ve met a ton of girls whom I greatly admire and respect. It’s incredible to be surrounded by so many inspiring women, and the support network my sorority has created for me has really been the missing piece in my college experience. It also makes my social life incredibly organized. Having planned social events makes it so easy for me to interact with new people on campus, and forces me to get out more.

As a result, I began taking more initiative on campus and am now active in programs that work to prepare pre-freshman students for their own transitions to campus. Finishing my first year, I’m grateful that I ended up at Cornell. Leaving for summer was much harder than I anticipated, and I couldn’t be more excited to come back next year.

Below are three stories from our first edition of Riding Solo (originally published February 2017). From the top of a mountain in upstate New York to the bottom of New Orleans’ Bourbon Street, the experiences reflected here are unfiltered, honest, and above all, inspiring. You’ll even find some advice along the way to help you muster up the courage to follow suit. Just remember to use the hashtag #RidingSolo to share your adventures with us!

How to Dine Solo

How to Dine Solo

Three women try dining alone for the first time.

We all do it every now and again. Lunch on a park bench. A croissant and coffee in a cafe on a lazy Sunday. In these instances, dining solo is easy. So why is it that once a menu and a waiter get involved, the experience becomes so much more intimidating?

We challenged three women to take themselves out for a meal and report back. The only rule: no social media allowed! Diving into Facebook and Instagram during those initial, uncomfortable moments prevents you from truly learning to be by yourself. See how these ladies fared when reserving their very own table for one.

Where did you go?

I went to La Note in Berkeley. I felt like eating warm comfort food!

Have you ever dined solo before?

Only once during my freshman year of college in the dining hall.

Describe how you felt at the beginning of the meal.

I decided to treat it like I was taking myself out on a date. I got dressed up and brought a journal and a book with me in case I needed it.

And how did you feel at the end of the meal?

I felt great! The best part of dining solo was that I felt like I didn't have to rush through anything. I felt like I could take my time and not be on anyone's schedule but mine.

What did you learn from the experience?

No one looked at me weird for eating by myself! I don't know why I thought people would, but no one did.

Would you dine solo again?

Potentially! I think everyone should take herself out on a date once in a while! It's really nice to slow down and reflect.

Where did you go?

I went to Maru Sushi in San Francisco. I usually see people dining alone at sushi so I thought it would be more of the norm.

Have you ever dined solo before?

No! Dining alone in public has actually been a big, irrational fear of mine.

Describe how you felt at the beginning of the meal.

So nervous! I didn't know what to expect. What do I do? Where do I look? Will it be awkward? I really wanted to throw myself into social media or text my friends to tame the awkwardness of just sitting there.

What about at the end of the meal?

It's like I did a 180. I was so calm. It was really nice to just zone out and enjoy my food without being stimulated by conversation the whole time.

What did you learn from this experience?

It’s not scary, and people do it all the time. It was an hour where I was not distracted by my phone, chores at home, social media, etc. I felt refreshed and noticed so many things I don't when I'm dining with another person.

What was the best part about the experience?

Honestly, avocados! My boyfriend is allergic so whenever we go to sushi we can never get avo in our rolls. It’s a small thing, but it was awesome to order whatever I want!

Where did you go and why?

I had dinner at Le P’tit Laurent, a cozy little French restaurant in my neighborhood in San Francisco. I hadn’t given it a real shot yet, and I love French food.

Have you ever dined solo before?

Sure, but it’s been a lot of years. I’ve been married for over 10 and have two kids. When I was single and broke and new to San Francisco, I did a lot of eating alone that first few months before I made a lot of friends. But that feels like another lifetime ago.

How often do you do things by yourself?

These days? Pretty much never. I always either have to take my family places or eat with them or would actually feel guilty that I am alone. Doing things alone can be almost a luxury for a mom.

Describe how you felt at the beginning of the meal.

Super apprehensive! Having family dinner around the table is such a destress moment for me at the end of the work day. I love talking with them about their days at school. It almost felt too indulgent to have a meal alone. I now realize it’s sort of sad that I don’t think I alone am worth that time.

What about at the end of the meal?

I got a nice table by the window, in a nice corner overlooking the restaurant. It allowed me to hide away a little bit and also watch everyone walking by. By the end, I was so much more relaxed and happy that I’d done it. I even finished up early enough that I still got to spend time with the kids, even if it wasn’t over food.

What did you learn from this experience?

I felt as though the waitstaff rushed food out at a faster pace than normal, because they probably thought I didn’t *really* want to be eating alone. More importantly, I couldn’t help noticing how fast I was drinking. I have a habit of needing a drink or two to help feel more comfortable in awkward situations. Usually that kicks in with social situations, but it really kicked in here, too. Once I realized I was doing it, I slowed everything down, and had a much more relaxed time as a result.

Would you dine solo again?

Maybe? It did feel a little bit like a treat. In some ways, it brought me back to my younger, single days a bit, and that was really refreshing. It was a nice mental cleanse moment for me, and that might be nice to do again.

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When Katie Sturino headed to a group hike sans a plus-one it turned out to be a day she'd never forget

When blogger Katie Sturino was invited to go on an organized, Saturday morning group hike, she couldn’t get any friends to commit to coming with her. Instead of bailing, she decided to take her dog as her plus-one and headed for the mountain on her own. What awaited her was an adventure she won’t soon forget.

"I was really nervous that I was going to head up the mountain and be sweaty and panting and get to the top, and it's a field of Instagram models doing headstands and the splits."

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How to Travel Solo

How to Travel Solo

Creative content producer Maddie Bachelder takes her first-ever solo trip to New Orleans.

Brit + Co’s creative content producer Maddie Bachelder decided to kick off 2018 by facing one of her biggest fears: traveling alone. For her first foray into the intimidating, but ultimately rewarding world of solo travel, she jetted down to New Orleans for a weekend of jazz, donuts, and a few self-revelations.

"This was such a wonderful trip. I got to see New Orleans on its 300th birthday and I proved to myself that I could have fun on my own and be adventurous."

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How to Move Solo

How to Move Solo

As a native Californian, Brit + Co’s senior writer Cortney Clift always dreamed of a life in New York City. Last year, she finally made the 3,000-mile leap and started a new chapter in Brooklyn. As she celebrates her one-year anniversary in the city she now calls home, she reflects on what she’s learned from the solo move.

When I was in high school, my family and I traveled to New York City during Christmas vacation. As we boarded the flight back to our Southern California home, I remember telling my mom, “I’ll be back,” in that angsty tone reserved for teenagers.

For as long as I can remember, New York City was the big dream. First, I was going to be a Broadway star. I practiced by singing Sinatra’s “New York, New York” into our at-home karaoke machine for months. Then, after I realized I didn’t really like show tunes and wasn’t great at choreographed dance, I decided to change my career aspirations to becoming a journalist instead.

Fast forward to January 2017. My career in media was off to a promising start as an editor at Brit + Co. Our main office is in San Francisco, but we also happen to have another office in Manhattan. I’d been living in the Bay Area for almost seven years and was ready for a change. I figured, why not make the move now? I’m a born-and-bred Californian and I knew next to no one in New York, but I was sure I’d always regret it if I didn’t at least give it a shot.

"I felt an unshakeable sense of pride in the fact that I had finally made it happen."

Leaving my home state wasn’t easy. The moment I decided to go I already missed the charming Victorian architecture of San Francisco and the redwood forest just across the Golden Gate Bridge. But most of all, I was sad and anxious about leaving my friends behind. In the months leading up to my departure, I created a “Bay Area bucket list” and got a lot of quality time in with my besties by having them help me check things off my list (brunch at Brenda’s, a day in Bolinas, etc.). I knew I wasn’t saying goodbye to them forever, but the bucket list really helped me close a chapter and move onto the next.

On my first full day in my Brooklyn apartment, I walked around my neighborhood in a snowstorm, wearing a smile so fixed, it made my teeth hurt from the cold. I felt an unshakeable sense of pride in the fact that I had finally made it happen. I had successfully moved to New York City – totally by myself.

My first year in the city was daunting, exhilarating, and one of my most impactful life experiences to date. I learned that building a new life takes a tremendous amount of time and care, and that optimism and learning to enjoy your own company are key.

My initial transition east was softened by the magic of the city, but after the set-up period was over, it was time to focus on something that I knew was going to be the hardest part about the move: making new friends. Forming new, adult friendships is often frustrating and somewhat awkward. You probably won’t meet the Rachel to your Monica by chance in a cafe. If you do, let me know the cross streets.

In reality, making new friends as an adult feels strangely similar to dating. Should you send the first text? What should you suggest the two of you do? (The answers, by the way, are “yes, and drinks or a bite to eat is usually a winning invite.”)

The key to forming new, platonic relationships is in the follow-through. Do your friends back home have friends here they’ve offered to set you up with? Take time to actually make those connections happen, and be prepared to do a lot of the organizing up front. You may have to initiate the first few hangs, but if there’s a genuine connection, you’ll start getting invites from the other end soon enough. Establishing a new social circle will take time. Patience is key.

In the interim, there will be bouts of loneliness. Sometimes it will be subtle (“Man, I wish my bestie could go to this event with me.”), and sometimes it might cause a mild panic (“What if I choke on this slice of pizza and my roommate doesn’t come home and I die alone in this apartment?!”). I allow myself to feel those feelings, but I always try to remember that those moments are opportunities for growth and a unique chance to get to know myself better. At the risk of sounding like a Pinterest quote, you've got to "grow through what you go through.”

When I asked a friend who made a similar move before me what she does when she finds herself without plans, she told me, “Be a tourist.” The beauty of living in a new city is that there’s always something you haven’t seen yet. When my weekends were totally empty, I’d often go out and do some of the things people come to New York to experience.

Sometimes I’d pop in a podcast and aimlessly wander the always-changing scenery of Central Park. On colder days, I’d bring a book on the subway and make the long journey to the Upper East Side to explore the halls of the Met Museum. And on one particularly scorching summer day, I spontaneously rode the F train all the way out to Coney Island just to dip my toes in the sand and watch the sunset.

It’s been more than a year now since I left chilled-out San Francisco for the bustling beast that is New York City. More than anything else, my first year here has taught me not to fear time alone, but cherish it instead. I may never again have the chance to spend so much uninterrupted time with me.

These days, it’s rare that I have a planless weekend. But sometimes on a Sunday, I’ll still hop on the subway, head uptown, and end up alone at the Met. Just me, myself, and maybe a little bit of Van Gogh.

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Your Solo Stories

Your Solo Stories

After Riding Solo’s launch, we asked you to share your own stories about a time when you did something alone. It comes as no surprise to learn that many of you ladies are already killing it on the solo front. From cross-country travels to opening up businesses, here are some of the stories the community has shared with us so far.

Have any stories or solo adventures you’d like to share? Tag us us in your posts (@britandco) and use #RidingSolo.

"I opened a dance studio with zero loans, furniture, mirrors, dance floor or even a sound system. My local SBA [Small Business Administration] told me to consider other types of dance instruction because no one would be interested in 'my type' of dancing. Took $500 cash that I had and worked feverishly. Will celebrate fifteen years as a dance company and studio owner on March 12, 2018." – @bfmlidaho

"I go to the movies alone all the time. It’s so freeing!! You’re not worried about overreacting and embarrassing yourself in front of others. Your reaction and experience is also not influenced by how your friend next to you is experiencing the same movie. I’ve learned a lot about myself this way." – @littlemadds

"When I was studying abroad I went to England and Ireland completely alone. I flew up from Rome where I was living and stayed in hostels alone along the way. I sometimes forget to acknowledge what it truly took to throw myself out there and just go for it." – @lbraudtx

"I took a 'me trip' to Los Angeles. Saw dear friends, went to life-changing Coldplay concert, spent afternoons in secluded beaches in Malibu, and took long photography walks.'' – @mariterecr

"I’m from New York and wanted to see something different. So in December I went to Omaha, NE by myself. It was great! Went to the diner, ate candy, [went to] the Durham museum and the zoo and stayed in the hotel and watched hallmark Christmas movies. Amazing time!” – @emmali18

"My first through hike was 150 miles solo through some remote terrain. I went 48 hours at a time without seeing another human. It was amazing. I have been trying to recreate that experience since.” – Christina Ortschaft

"For my first solo trip, I drove 10,046 miles over three months across the US and Canada with just my dog and I loved every bit of it! No negotiating what to do, where to go, what to eat. It took all of the stress out of the experiences I had. And being alone with myself and my thoughts forced personal growth that I might never have achieved otherwise.” – Sarah Gentileschi

"I'm a born and raised Californian and I have an opportunity to move to New York by the end of this year to perform in a musical at an off Broadway Theater that my friend wrote. :) This [series] really helped me with my confidence in making my decision.” – Diandra Griego

"This summer I took my first-ever solo vacation to DC! I’d always wanted to try traveling alone, and decided pretty last minute to fly across the country on a whim. I cannot even explain how happy I was that I took the leap, alone. I was able to spend hours meandering through museums without being rushed by anyone. I made dinner reservations at the best restaurants because I wasn’t worried about someone else’s budget. I’m planning another solo trip, this time to Boston, in the spring!” – @lindseyblue

All illustrations by Meryl Rowin