I’m a solo-adventurer. I’m the girl you see alone at the movies. The one who eats a full dinner (plus dessert!) at a sit-down restaurant by myself, without shame. Despite the fact that I have a ton of wonderful people in my life, I frequently go on these sorts of outings all on my lonesome.
So what’s wrong with me? Certainly something must be wrong with a woman who chooses to do fun things alone, right? While doing things alone feels normal to me, I’ve noticed that others seem to have a harder time warming up to the concept. A lot people have said to me, “Oh, I could never go to the movies by myself! I would just feel embarrassed,” or “I think it’s cool that you can have dinner alone, but I would just get bored.”
Maybe you feel similarly, and if so, that’s totally okay. The idea of doing something alone, particularly something both public and fun, can be a vulnerable experience. But still, I firmly believe that it’s an experience that is worth having, one that is enriching and liberating. Here are a few reasons why you should do things alone as well:
You can set your own itinerary
I first learned to appreciate solo adventures when I came to New York for a semester during college. I was living with three other girls, and whenever we would try to plan a day of sightseeing, it was always somewhat of a disaster. We really enjoyed each other as friends, but our interests could not have been more different. One person would want to go to The Met while another person wanted to go to a comic book convention while another person wanted to go to a pole dancing class. In the end, we often decided to just peace out, go do our own things, and meet up for dinner. It was a good system, one I highly recommend.
You get to move at your own pace
When you’re with someone else, you are often beholden to their speed. For example, let’s say you’re at an art museum with a friend. You walk in the door and you’re eager to b-line it to the Egyptian wing for the new mummy exhibit. However, much to your disappointment, your friend is stuck entranced by a painting of a single red dot in the Modern Art section. Depending on how well you know this person, the polite thing to do is probably to just be patient and go at their pace. But if you’re flying solo, girl, you can just book it all the way to Mummy Town as quickly as you like. Or, if you’re the type of person who moves at a more relaxed pace, you can take time to really soak in the experience instead of having a friend inadvertently rush you through it.
You have time to feed your inner artist
In The Artist’s Way, creativity expert Julia Cameron cites two important practices for every artist to commit to: daily morning pages (three hand-written pages of stream-of-consciousness writing) and weekly artist dates. An artist date is time spent alone doing something that excites you creatively. Even if it’s just a walk around the neighborhood, it’s essential to do this activity by yourself so that you are only influenced by your own experience. Artist dates are a harder thing to commit to than you’d think, but they are essential in unblocking creativity. Plus, you get to tell your friends about all of the hot dates you’ve been going on. 😉
You see things in a new way
This is the real reason why Julia Cameron recommends artist dates. When you go out into the world by yourself, you are better able to focus without the distraction of social interaction. It’s like all of your senses are heightened. Suddenly flowers smell sweeter, food tastes more flavorful, music sounds more…musical. And of course, being alone in a public place gives you full on freedom to “people watch,” which is one of my very favorite things to do. There is nothing that will enrich your view of humanity more than creeping on some strangers.
You learn to be okay when loneliness strikes
Let’s face it: even if you’re a social butterfly, there are times when being alone is just inevitable. It’s a part of life, and as such, it’s important to learn to not only be by yourself, but to be comfortable being alone with yourself. By practicing this in an intentional way, you become better adept at dealing with the lonelier times of life.
You start liking yourself more
At first, the prospect of going on a solo outing may be intimidating, but once you fall into the habit, it’s actually really empowering. You’ll begin to think to yourself, “Man, I just did that awesome thing ALL. BY. MYSELF. Like, I honestly didn’t even need another person to have fun in that situation. Hot damn, I guess I like myself.”