For my birthday, I bought myself a Florida Writers Association conference registration. Pretty nice gift, yes? I've never attended a large writing conference and since this one is sort of local and wouldn't involve airline travel (airport = hell), and the hotel and registration prices were reasonable, I dug out my credit card and splurged. I ended up going alone, which turned out to be a smart decision. Here's why.
1. I didn't have to check in with anyone. Ever. Most of us report to others throughout the day and are supposed to be in certain places at certain times. Not having anyone expect me to show up allowed me to make spur of the moment decisions and change my mind whenever I wanted, without disappointing a friend.
2. I met new, fabulous people. Most everyone at this event was extremely friendly and since we're all interested in the same subject, it was easy to start conversations. The men and women I chatted with all had a story to tell, and exchanging ideas and experiences tweaked my brain synapses. Talking to authors who write outside my genre was a breath of fresh air and gave me lots to think about.
3. When you're by yourself, you have to step out of your comfort zone. A lot. I had to walk into a room and sit at at table with strangers for meals and workshops. You know what? The more you do that, the easier it gets. I was having a downright fun time by the end of the weekend. I also had to take absolute responsibility for my own decisions, since I didn't have a buddy to discuss plans with. Yoiks! Talk about being a total grownup. But it made me think hard about which workshops to attend and how to spend my time.
4. Not having my honey along meant I could focus entirely on learning and not be distracted by whether or not he was doing okay. The honey and I do well when we travel together, but we each have to think about the needs of the other one. This time, it was all about me. Which also meant I could take a chill-out break when I needed. Surrounded by so many people, I required a lot of those breaks. Quiet ones. The television did not get turned on once. Perfect!
It was nice to come home and snuggle with my cat on my feet and my man next to me, but I enjoyed my time away. Being alone doesn't have to be lonely. There were times when it would have been fun to have a friend or my sweetie with me, but mostly, I rocked being alone. And I'll do it again.
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