Being alone gets a bad rap. People tend to conflate being alone with being lonely, but that’s some serious bullshit. Doing stuff alone is one of the best ways I can think of to get to know yourself and revel in your own company. There’s nothing lonely about being alone; in fact, getting comfortable with being alone is one of the best ways to banish loneliness permanently from your repertoire of feelings.
I used to be absolutely petrified of doing anything by myself, for fear that it would make me look like a total loser. I grew up in a teeny tiny town where I ran into people I knew (and wanted to avoid) the second I stepped out the door, and I hated being spotted by myself. Going places alone made me feel nervous and exposed, and I’d only do it if I was armed with a cell phone I could use to look busy and distract myself from being in my own company.
Moving to New York for college opened me to a whole wide world of doing things alone. In New York, everyone does everything alone. Fabulous, strong, connected women can be found doing things alone that I used to insist on doing in groups. I made a point to do more by myself, and even though it felt really weird at first, I grew to like it. It made me feel independent and strong. I began to feel more comfortable hanging out with myself.
Doing things alone is not only fun (and often practical), it’s also a big step towards feeling comfortable in your own skin. It’s when you’re alone that you get to work out what you really love to do (and what you don’t) and where you really want to go. You get to know yourself.
There’s a whole wide world out there of things you can do– and rock– alone. To get you started, here are some things I think are a complete blast to do by yourself.
- Go to the movies. This is a no-brainer. You don’t have to compromise on movie selection, and you don’t have to share your popcorn. Bonus: You can see something really embarrassing without ridicule (I may or may not have seen Bridget Jones’ Diary 2 alone).
- Have a cocktail. Go to your favorite bar, and toast to yourself. Bring a book if you feel uncomfortable. I can often be spotted alone at a bar with a book. It may look nerdy, but it’s a great way to unwind. Bonus: It’s also a really great way to meet new people, so make sure you’re not reading anything too embarrassing.
- Shop ‘til you drop. It’s way more efficient to go shopping without your gaggle of friends to distract you, especially if you’re looking for something specific. It’s also really fun to get lost in the aisles of your favorite stores by yourself. Bonus: You don’t have to wait for your slow friend to try on a bazillion pairs of jeans at every single store.
- Get your nails did. I know this one is usually a social activity (and one that I love doing with friends), but sometimes you just need to go sit in silence and have someone take care of your feet. It’s more relaxing that way. Bonus: You get to actually read those trashy magazines they give you.
- Go to a museum. This is my favorite thing to do by myself. You get to go through the museum at your own pace and look at the stuff that interests you, without feeling like you have to apologize for not loving Egyptian art or lingering too long on the Warhols. Bonus: You don’t have to engage in any deep conversations about art with pretentious friends (but you should bring a notebook in case you want to engage in deep, pretentious conversations about art with yourself).
- Take yourself to dinner. This one is hard for me, especially when it’s a more formal sit-down type of place. I always bring a book, which acts as a security blanket of sorts. I also like to remind myself of my days as a waitress when I used to seat tables of one all the time. Trust me, once you get comfortable doing it, it feels really badass to eat dinner alone at a restaurant. Bonus: No sharing appetizers.
- Take a walk. Be alone with your thoughts. Watch other people. Absorb nature. You’ll get some really great thinking done. Bonus: You can walk as fast or slow as you want, damnit.
- See some live music or theater. No explanation needed here! Bonus: you can leave during intermission if you really feel like it, and no one will judge you.
- Hang out in a coffee shop. One of life’s simplest pleasures is sitting alone with a cup of coffee. Use this time to people-watch, get some work done, or do some pleasure reading. Bonus: No one will distract you from your eavesdropping.
- Go to a party. I used to insist on showing up at all parties with at least one friend on my arm, but let me tell you: there’s something to be said for showing up alone. It makes you seem more open to meeting new people, and it also makes you look like a super confident, self-assured mover and shaker. Bonus: You can kiss a cute stranger without feeling bad for ditching a friend.
- Travel. If you’ve done this, you’re officially a rock star of hanging out alone. It’s a blast because you get to plan your itinerary exactly as you want it, and only do the stuff that really gets you excited. Traveling alone, especially to new places, is an existential experience—it’ll offer you amazing perspective on yourself and your place in the world. Plus, it’s fun. Bonus: No one can talk you into grueling hikes or boring monuments.
So, what did I miss? What do you guys like to do by yourselves?
[image via flickr]
PS- I love it when you talk twitter to me.