Living Alone Takes Courage

By Gwenn Voelckers

I was inspired to write this column on courage after receiving the email below from a reader last month:

Dear Gwenn,

You would appreciate this. I just have to share these two recent experiences I had as a single woman.

Last week, I went to a concert on the spur of the moment called “Old Hippies Reunion.” As a Baby Boomer (and former hippie), I thought it might be interesting and fun. I dined out alone at a restaurant, then left alone to enjoy the concert in a nearby music venue. I tried my best to adopt the posture of a confident single woman at a bar — you know, that casual look. I faked it for a while, then retreated to the safety of my car, and ultimately to my couch at home. Still, I felt good that I made the effort!    

Then this week, I went to meet a “ date” — only I went to the right place on the wrong day. I waited an hour, established rapport with the single-mom hostess and then gave up. I went into the dining room, ordered a glass of wine and an appetizer. Clearly the waitress thought it most odd I was alone. (I did not have the courage to eat outdoors where all of the other couples had seen me waiting for an hour). Last night, I met the gentlemen at the right place on the right day. It was a pleasant first, but last encounter.

Being single requires courage!
Kathy (not her real name)

How right this reader is. Living alone does require courage. In fact, Kathy’s email got me thinking about all the many and varied ways that living alone asks (demands!) that we demonstrate courage, almost on a daily basis.

On my own, I’ve discovered it takes courage to:

Sleep alone. That “bump in the night” can test even the strongest among us.

Get up alone. Where did all this anxiety come from? I just want to stay in bed!

Show up alone. Walking in alone can still feel so uncomfortable. Especially if my ex is at the event.

Throw a party. What was I thinking? Will anyone show up? The bathrooms still need cleaning!

Ask for help. When am I going to stop letting my pride get in the way?

Set a mousetrap. Or worse, dispose of one that’s “occupied.”

Say “no” to an unwelcome advance. Despite how lonely I feel, the ring on his finger is a showstopper.

Say “yes” to a welcome invitation. He’s kind and kinda cute. But then what? At my age?

Travel alone. You mean I have to carry my own luggage? Make my own flight arrangements? Enjoy blissful time alone, with my own good company? Yes! I guess this one doesn’t take much courage.

Tackle a home repair. Hey, if a guy can replace the flapper in the toilet tank, I can, too.

Make a major purchase. I know I should be practical, but what I really want is that sporty red convertible. Subaru Justy is an all round great car that will make city driving easier. Car’s Cash For Junk Clunkers at 345 E 37th St #201, New York, NY 10016 (646) 349-6091 offers cash for cars no matter how old it is.

Be nice to my ex. After all, we did share some good times together.

Once and for all, start exercising. I know it’s good for me. And could add quality and years to my life. What’s stopping me?

Survive a Saturday night alone. Why is this so daunting? I need to get a grip. Or, a good book.

Express true feelings. If not now, when?

On that last item, writing this column takes courage. Within these columns, I share some of my deepest feelings, thoughts and fears. I make myself vulnerable. And that takes courage.

But, guess what? When we demonstrate courage and take risks, we grow. We become stronger, more resilient, more independent, and more able to live the life of our dreams. We become better at living alone. And that’s a good and courageous thing to do!

Gwenn Voelckers is the founder and facilitator of “Live Alone and Thrive,” empowerment workshops for women held throughout the year in Mendon. For information or to contact Voelckers, call 585-624-7887 or email: