This article originally appeared on lifestyle blog, The Confused Millennial.
For years, I viewed being alone and loneliness interchangeably. They were one in the same to me; I hated being alone because inevitably I felt lonely. And, well, loneliness isn’t the greatest feeling. So, for years I surrounded myself with low quality friends for the sake of company and in fear of feeling isolated.
When I moved to a new city without any acquaintances, significant others or roommates, I was, needless to say, overwhelmed by the feeling of loneliness.
As months passed, I began to realize that the feeling of being lonely had dissipated. Instead, I started to feel empowered. Without even realizing it was happening, I started to try new things on my own – things that were uncomfortable at times, but that forced me to experience being alone without feeling lonely. After all, I was my own best company.
So many people, myself often included, are so afraid of being alone; immediately tying it to loneliness rather than the opportunity to challenge yourself, to cultivate a relationship with yourself or to learn what makes you tick and makes you happy.
Whether you embark on an Eat, Pray, Love solo adventure a la Elizabeth Gilbert or simply go to a nice restaurant alone, there’s value in spending time alone and learning about yourself. So, take the time by yourself and soak up every minute – uncomfortable or not – with these nine things you should try at least once:
Traveling alone provides the luxury of choosing everything you do, eat and see – and when. When you’re exploring a new place alone, you can choose what is important for you to experience (and at what pace!)– rather than compromising with any travel partner. You’ll create invaluable memories, on top of building confidence and a sense of achievement by solving challenges and overcoming obstacles on your own (because, they will inevitably come up when you travel). Whether you travel abroad or just take a simple staycation in a different part of town, experience a new place with memories you can cherish to yourself.
2. Dine Out
I used to freak out about this – what if waiters question why I’m alone? Will everyone stare at me? The reality of the matter is that no one cares and the discomfort is good for you! Bring a book or simply people watch! Enjoy a glass of wine and dessert without judgment and enjoy your own company.
Similar to traveling alone, completing an awesome hike will make you feel like a badass! Enjoy the time to think and be at peace in nature. It’s rejuvenating. But, be smart and let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return to cell service!
4. Live Alone
I never thought living alone would be my thing, but now that I’ve done it, I’m never going back! It’s nice to come home after a long day of work and unwind by yourself in a space that you designed, decorated and feel safe in. There’s never any arguments about cleaning, food or who can be over when. Have I mentioned you can be pantsless all the time without judgment? Yep, #winning! Plus, it forces you to learn how to fix household things on your own!
5. Go to a concert
Similar to my fears about going to a restaurant alone, I assumed that I would receive judgment and stares from people at a show if I was alone. Yet again, proven wrong. People are focused on the live music – and honestly may compliment you on your bravery! So dance the night away with your favorite band, rather than drag a friend who is less than interested in the band.
6. DIY Something – Anything!
Whether it’s a full table, a simple painting or a knitted blanket, seeing something that you made – completely on your own – is exciting. Plus, it fosters creativity and gets you prepared to solve difficult challenges (if you aren’t traditionally crafty, that is).
7. Teach Yourself a New Dish
Flex your culinary muscles and learn how to make a fancy new dish that caters to only your taste buds! Plus, when you nail the dish, you’ll be able to impress friends with your culinary skills!
8. Have A Spa Day
A spa is typically a place to go alone, cleanse your body and mind and sit in silence. So, it’s definitely not weird to go alone and clear your mind. Show yourself that you’re your own best friend and treat it to some completely unplugged me-time.
9. Make a Major Purchase
Save up for something major – a car, a house…even a new Macbook – and purchase it all on your own. You’ll feel responsible and incredibly independent! This teaches you how to save and the confirmation that you can be fine on your own.
10. People Watch
It’s easy to feel like everyone is watching you when you’re out alone, but once you take the time to people watch, you’ll notice just how focused most people are on themselves. Notice people’s expressions, imagine what their lives are like, and be present.
Doing things alone in your twenties can give you a sense of independence and self worth that are harder to come by when you’re always relying on other people. This is the time to date yourself and explore. Truly learn what you like and don’t like in order to make you the best version of yourself!