I don’t generally give advice on this blog – much more often it’s a case of me showing you where things have gone awry for me and letting you draw your own conclusions.
But something I know a lot about is going places on my own. I realised very early on in my first marriage that if I wanted to go somewhere, then chances were I was going to have to go on my own. And I learnt that I could do it – I could drive a long distance, or take the train, or fly, I could stay in a hotel or take a bus trip. On my own.
This is not intended in any way to be patronising. If you are well-used to going places solo, this is not aimed at you. This is for the women who are suddenly having to do all this stuff on their own for the first time, after years of doing it as a couple – and are frankly scared shitless.
Here are my 8 tips on how to get yourself out there.
- Do what you want, what you really really want. If you’ve spent years doing what he wants to do, or what ‘you’ (plural) want to do, now’s the time to think about what you want to do. Think about it carefully. It’s your turn now. Jot a few ideas down – there’ll be big ideas, and small ideas. There will be some that are easy to do, and some that will challenge you. But the important thing is, they’re yours. You can do this.
- Be prepared. The first time you go out on your own, you’ll likely be hyper-aware of everyone else being in a couple. Or you might worry that they’ll notice that you’re on your own (they might notice, but they won’t care). The world does tend to revolve around couples. But if you’re ready for it before you go, it won’t come as a shock. Buy a coffee and fiddle with your phone – it’s what everyone else does, even if they’re with someone. And after a while, you’ll see that not everyone is in a couple. And not everyone who is in a couple is having the time of their life…
- Learn to linger. This is the bit I’ve found hardest to do. To begin with, days out went like this – I want to visit X. I go to X. I look at X. I go home. I’m slowly learning to take my time. Spend longer looking round, get chatting to people, drink the coffee slowly. Take a moment, and just be there.
- Take photos. Build your own memories. Take some selfies, or get serious with long lenses. As well as being a good thing to do, it slows you down and makes you stop and think.
- In most couples there is some sort of division of labour. Maybe he always did the driving. Maybe he always did the online booking. Maybe he always knew the best places to park, or how to get through the one way system. I’ve known women who wouldn’t drive on the motorway, or never filled the car with petrol, or had never programmed the SatNav. There are two ways of approaching this – you can start small and work your way up to the bigger things, or, well, there’s a lot to be said for just getting on with it. You can so do this.
- Plan the journey. Short or long, if it’s the first time you’ve done it, think it through. Think about how long it will take you (check with Google maps, then add a bit), where you might stop en route (don’t try to drive for more than a couple of hours without a break, particularly if you’re not used to driving long distances). Fill the car up before you set off. You can even use Google street view to find the place you’re going, so that when you get there you’ll recognise it.
- Practice – fiddle with the SatNav beforehand, use it for journeys where you know the way anyway. Go and have a practice drive on the motorway – maybe ask a friend who is an experienced driver to go with you. Remember, you are an independent, capable woman, and you can do this. Or – feel the fear and do it anyway.
- Go easy on yourself. It won’t all go according to plan. You will take a wrong turning – and that’s when the adventure begins.
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