Going Solo: An Introvert’s Guide to REI Outessa

You can do it. You can sign up, jump on a plane, get in your car, and head out for a weekend adventure. alone.

Alone.

I know it seems scary. And awkward. So awkward! Who will you sit next to at breakfast? Who’s going to laugh with you when you fall off the paddle board? What if you don’t meet anyone? What if you’re the only one sitting alone at the campfire?

I know, I get it. This is the second year I’ve gone solo to Outessa, and all those thoughts danced around my head. And you know what, most of those things will happen. Just not quite as you’ve thought.

You will sit alone, as you reflect on the incredible shit you accomplished. I mean, you killed it climbing those rocks!

You might fall off the paddle board. But you’ll have nine women falling in with you, and ready to help you back up.

You might not meet anyone – right away. By the end of the weekend, I promise, you’ll have connections. People who get it, who understand you. People who feel just like you do.

I know it’s not easy. When I was walking back to the campsite at the end of the day. When I woke up in the morning and headed to the Outessa Village. When I was eating breakfast. It was lonely. In a crowd of 500 women, I felt alone.

But that’s okay. It is, really! Those awkward feelings, those emotions that swell up when you’re doing something uncomfortable, that’s what makes you stronger. Because you know what, it’s pretty damn great to sit alone sometimes. And that’s what opens you up to opportunities and experiences you may otherwise have missed out on.

Because I went alone. Because I ate alone and wandered alone, I met some incredible people. I made new connections that will last a lifetime, and that’s pretty special. I opened myself up to the unfamiliar, to potential rejection, to maybe being ignored. And you know what? That may happen. But who cares? Just do it again. And again. Because why the fuck not? What’s the worst that can happen?

Okay, so here are some highlights of REI Outessa. What not to miss, what to skip, what to do with any spare time:

EVERYTHING you’ve never done before
If you’re a trail runner, go rock climbing, even if it scares the shit out of you. If yoga is your thing, try mountain biking. The guides are freaking amazing, and they’ll show you how not to kill yourself. If there was ever a time to try something that scares you, this is it. All the activities were amazing, you can’t go wrong.

Get in the Water
Jump on a paddle board, try out the crazy lightweight Oru kayaks, just get on the water as much as possible. These are things that cost a fortune to rent when you’re on vacation, so take advantage since they’re included (and, they’re super fun).

Steph Jagger’s Goal-Setting Workshop
Everyone who met Steph, whether at her workshop or just roaming around, had the same impression: She is fucking awesome. Take her workshop and you’ll cry, you’ll laugh, you’ll feel like a badass and you’ll leave with new friends. It was definitely a highlight of my weekend. And, buy her book, Unbound.

Happy Hour Tent Crawl
This may seem obvious. But really, if you’re solo, don’t hide out in your tent because you don’t have anyone to drink with. Lots of the tents had super fun ice-breakers, and it’s almost impossible not to meet people. You really don’t have to try. You can customize a water bottle at Hydro Flask, make a paracord bracelet at Leathermen, tie-dye a shirt at Keen. All with some wine in your hand. Or beer, if that’s your thing.

Inspirational Breakfast Speakers
Oh man, Diane Van Deren. Holy shit, what a story. I left her speech feeling like I wanted to save the world. She is a force. But go, and listen, and who cares if you’re sitting alone. Believe me, you won’t care. You’ll be too busy crying into your french toast.

Post, or search, on Instagram
Sounds a little strange, I know. But take some time to search through the #sweatydirtyhappy hashtag on Instagram, and check out the people who are posting. If there’s anyone you’re inspired by, who motivates you, or who just looks like a cool person, reach out. Send them a message, comment on their photo. Who knows what it’ll lead to. Maybe nothing (worst-case), or maybe an awesome new connection (best-case!).

So there it is. There are so, so, so many cool things to do at Outessa, it’s a little overwhelming to think about. You can’t go wrong. But the thing that will surprise you the most, the thing that’s unavoidable: you’ll find your people, even if you don’t try. People with issues, with self-doubt, people who don’t realize how strong they really are. Just like you.

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  • I’m 60 years old AND an introvert. I’m technically doing this with my much younger (55) sister (she talked me into it), but we’re pretty much heading our own separate ways as far as activities go. Except maybe for the drinking. We’ll probably do that together. Anyway, if the overweight, middle aged broad is willing to give it a shot, going solo should be a piece of cake.

    I’ll look for you. We can have dinner together.

  • So well written and now I’m so honored to have met you! I hope I get the opportunity to meet up with you again some day!