facebook icon

I was afraid to show up alone

We are spending the winter in a wonderful community in Sarasota, Florida, with 120 homes and an active homeowners’ association. Last Thursday, there was a bluegrass band on the beach complete with a BBQ food truck. Just show up with your beach chairs and beverage, and make it an evening.

The music was starting at 6pm and I wanted to get there right on time and secure our spot (and our pork sliders!). As the time approached, I was surprised (and a little annoyed) to learn that my husband Peter would be on a work Zoom with South Korean clients starting at 6 and lasting for 1/2 hour to an hour.

I wanted to go to the beach event but I didn’t want to show up alone. Who would I sit with? Would any of the neighbors I know be there? (Yep, I’m the introvert in the couple, whereas these kinds of questions would never even occur to my very social husband.)

We were just talking about this a couple of weeks ago in a lively Zoom session inside my THRIVE membership, where we discussed socializing later in life. Especially when we’ve lost the easy conduits to friendships we used to rely on: A spouse, our kids, the neighbors, an in-person job. Many of us are divorcing, empty nesting, moving, and/or working from home. Where does that leave our friendships?

We shared personal strategies that have worked for each of us, from taking classes to volunteering, attending women’s retreats to joining local organizations or clubs (Meetups anyone?). The common thread, we concluded, was that we were putting ourselves out there, pursuing our interests and in so doing meeting like-minded women. Bonding around a shared passion is a great way to launch a new friendship.

And in this past week’s discussion inside THRIVE (part of our Boost Your Happiness challenge), we talked about courage. We confided that there were things we so wanted to do but were scared about taking the first step. What if we were judged or ridiculed or fell flat on our faces? I shared that, as Mark Twain famously said, courage is not the absence of fear but acting despite the fear. That’s a big distinction. It’s ok, heck it’s human, to be afraid. But being brave is accepting that we will have unpleasant feelings and pushing forward on our desires and dreams despite these difficult emotions. We all wrote down our new mantra: Feel the fear and do it anyway.

So what did I do about the beach event?

I put on my big-girl panties and went alone! (I do try my best to practice what I preach.) Peter was surprised when I waved at him and departed with beach chair and beverage in hand. I really think he was assuming I’d wait for him (good thing I didn’t as his call went long).

The first people I ran into on the beach were Lynn and Randon, who invited me to sit with them. We chatted and I socialized with neighbors I knew, and ones I met that eve. I even photobombed a group taking photos on the beach. It was a wonderful evening ending in a glorious sunset over the Gulf of Mexico. Paradise!

YOUR TURN: What’s holding you back from taking the first step on your dream? How can you feel the fear and do it anyway? Or maybe you’ve done this already? Tell us your stories in the comments!

Want to learn how to THRIVE

in your next chapter?

Grab your FREE training and discover the 5 MUSTS to a joyful and fulfilling next chapter, along with EASY STEPS you can begin taking today to put these MUSTS into practice.


  1. Lynn Campbell

    I leave in a few days to fly to seattle and pack up the last of my belongings; 40 years of marriage history,my art, and whatever is left into a 20ft truck and drive it across the U.S. to Georgia.
    I am caring for my mother with stage 4 alzimers so getting someone to stay with her while I’m gone is hard. It is also very depressing. The whole scenario is depressing.
    I’ve talked to your group more than anyone else about my life changes.
    I hour in the future I will be at one with my divorce and all of the changes happening in my life.

    • Hélène

      Thank you for sharing Lynn. That’s a lot of change and grief and renewal. Sending hugs during this time of transition.

    • Sally

      Wow, Lynn, that is a lot. Wishing you peace and strength during this time. Be gentle with yourself. I know you can’t exactly take a break, but try to take a deep breath and a take a moment for yourself when you can. Best of luck in all these transitions. Big hug to you.

  2. Sally

    Totally relate to this story, Hélène. Especially now. I think I used to be more brave, or I used to be brave for my kids. I always get so excited about an invite somewhere but then the night of the party I don’t want to go, I think no one will talk to me, I have nothing to say, people won’t like me. LOL. On one hand I know it’s not true, on the other it fills me with ambivalence. Hearing stories like this does help to see that maybe those people out there having fun have the same feelings that I do!!

    • Hélène

      Exactly Sally! We always seem to think everyone else looks so confident right? Thanks for sharing!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Am I a Klutz?

Am I a Klutz?

Somehow, I’ve ended up in the ER in most every city I’ve lived in. Not for anything serious, mind you. It’s a little embarrassing actually. I came home from college to my hometown of Greenwich, CT, and played outdoors paddle tennis for the first time. Within a few...

Is Your World Out of Control?

Is Your World Out of Control?

I am a planner. I like to predict and anticipate every eventuality. I hate surprises. And I'm not just talking about negative events. I'm turning 60 in January and I've made it clear to my husband: no surprise (or any other kind of) party! When the world seems to be...

I’m Hélène Stelian, the Midlife Mentor with a passion for facilitating personal development in women 40+. Through my THRIVE Courses, I help introspective, curious, action-oriented women 40+ deepen their journeys of self-discovery and growth—and create their next chapter with courage and intention.

Follow Me


I am happy to bring you valuable content and resources free of charge. In order to do this, please note that if you decide to make a purchase through my link, Amazon will pay me a commission for it. This does not cost you anything additional. Thank you!

Pin It on Pinterest