How to Be Independent in D.C. | The Washington Center

How to Be Independent in D.C.

I'm sure all of us girls can relate when I say that going to the bathroom alone in middle school is just NOT a thing one would do. In 8th grade, I remember my friends begging me to walk 100 feet from the cafeteria to the bathroom with them. I would roll my eyes and finally give in, not ever completely understanding why exactly they absolutely needed someone to stand outside the bathroom door with them.


Since I was little, I've always been pretty independent. Walking places alone has never bothered me. I've always enjoyed just "me" time. Ever since middle school, I have noticed how much our generation relies on being with others. I think it's great to have lots of friends and be surrounded by people; however, I do think that too often people (Millennials, especially) feel awkward or lonely when they don't have another person by their side 100% of the time. Even I have fallen into this way of thinking, but being in D.C. has given me a whole new perspective on this topic.


Photo courtesy of Huffington Post


Being a 19-year-old female from a small town, I am consistently warned to never go anywhere alone. If I am to go somewhere alone, I am told to never make eye contact, always look down at the ground, don't speak to anyone, walk with purpose, don't smile, don't look too naive, etc. Although it is important to be safe, it's also important to realize that relying too heavily on other people's company can inhabit your ability to grow and mature as an independent person.


That being said, before coming to D.C., it would have bothered me to walk alone, eat by myself, etc. However, throughout my time here, I have discovered the wonder and beauty in being completely alone, and being absolutely okay with it. Here's lessons that I have learned:


1. Not everyone is out to get you.

Whether consciously or not, a lot of people tend to judge others on appearances. As humans, that's just what we do. It may feel natural to walk down the street alone and worry that the homeless person sitting on the corner is going to steal all of your money. People are so inhabited by this fear that they sometimes refuse to do anything alone. Yes, it's important to be safe but in reality, very rarely is anyone ever going to hurt you. Just walk with confidence, know where you're going, and you'll be good.


2. Just because you do things alone doesn't mean you don't have friends.

This is a huge one. I think I can speak for a lot of young people when I say that a huge misconception about being alone is that it equates us with having no friends. In fact, contrary to popular belief, not all eyes are on us all the time. In all honesty, no one really cares or is wondering why you are alone.


3. Being alone is the absolute best place to think.

From personal experience, I have made some of the biggest and best decisions (TWC being one of them) of my life in my four-hour-long car rides to and from college. Even the short walks back from the Metro to TWC have been great times to reflect on the amazing experiences I've had here in D.C. Taking a little bit of "me" time can allow you get away from distractions long enough to reflect as well as look ahead to the future.


SO... go visit a museum, eat at your favorite restaurant or go shopping in Georgetown - all by your lonesome! It might feel awkward at first, but bask in the uncomfortability of it.


After all of that, I leave you with a couple of my favorite independence-themed songs to accompany you on your solitary journey:




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