I spend a lot of time alone. This is something that I used to not like, but that I’ve grown to truly love. I’ve never been a person who loved being around others constantly; I’m comfortable in groups and don’t sweat public speaking at all, and I definitely can hold a conversation with anyone who starts one. But at my core, I’m pretty shy and prefer to be by myself.
The reason why I haven’t always loved spending time alone in spite of the fact that I’m happy and comfortable alone is that I have always found it difficult to do a lot by myself. I love my solitude, but I’ve traditionally spent it lying on the couch watching tv or listening to an audiobook. And those things are totally fine to do, but considering the amount of time I spend on my own, I should be experiencing and accomplishing a lot more during that time. More recently, I’ve challenged myself to start doing a lot more during my solo days, and I’ve found that doing all the things I love doing with my family and friends are things that are actually so rewarding to do alone. Now, I look forward to the days when I have the day to myself because all of the activities I’ve traditionally needed a friend or partner to enjoy, I’m now happy to do on my own. Here are six things that will seriously change your life if you get really good at doing them alone.
1. Cooking (and eating) an elaborate meal.
Please tell me I’m not the only one who does this, but for some reason, I have a hard time justifying cooking a full meal when it is just for me. I know that is silly for many reasons, the most obvious being that many people live alone and obviously still cook and eat meals. But since I went from living with my family to living with a partner, I’m used to sharing meals with people. When I find myself home alone for an evening, I’m much less motivated to cook, because I know I won’t be sharing the food with anyone (even though I know I can just cook a smaller portion of food, or pack up leftovers for tomorrow). This sometimes leads to me spending unnecessarily on takeout, but most often leads to me eating depressing meals when I’m home alone for the night, like a slice of toast with string cheese.
More recently, I’ve been alone a lot more nights, and have been trying to get into the habit of still cooking a full, healthy meal so I can actually eat something good for dinner — with the added bonus of being able to pack up leftovers for my boyfriend or myself to have the next day. (Another added bonus: cooking alone is just wonderful. You can do whatever you want, create something new, mix new flavors, and do whatever you’d like without worrying about someone else’s palate, which is such a glorious, freeing feeling.)
2. Having a drink at a restaurant.
I conquered the fear of eating alone in public a long time ago, and I actually love to go out and grab a bite to eat alone. However, one thing I never really got on board with was ordering a drink with my food. Alcohol is often enjoyed socially, and although I am not opposed to pouring a glass of wine or mixing a cute cocktail when I’m having a movie night alone at home, I get this weird anxiety about getting alcohol alone in public. I prefer to enjoy it in the company of friends, and don’t want to open the door of getting drinks alone all the time and head down the slippery slope of hitting the bar a little too much. But I’m actually definitely reading too much into that. I recently have gotten a little better at it, and although I’m not sure I see myself sitting at a bar alone ordering tequila shots anytime soon, I’m finding that a glass of wine or a crisp beer is nice and easy to enjoy alone.
It is fun to go out and go ShOpPiNg as an activity with friends once in a while, but truly, there’s no need to make it a group activity all the time. First of all, it encourages the bad habit of only engaging in group activities that cost money, which means you’re missing out on tons of other much more fulfilling activities that are totally free. But second of all, you’re much more likely to spend money when shopping with friends than if you were shopping alone. Also, I don’t know about you, but I like to really take my time when I have shopping to do. I like to get a cup of coffee, slowly browse through every part of the store I’m in, try things on, and make well-informed decisions before heading to the checkout. A lot of times, being with friends rushes my ~process~.
4. Doing handiwork and DIY projects around your home.
Even if you live with a partner, and even if they’re a little better at doing handiwork than you (*raises hand*), it is a good idea to get familiar with the idea of doing the things around the house that you might most often ask for help with. In my house, Drew usually hangs anything we need hung on the walls (pictures, mirrors, shelving, etc.) and fixes the majority of things that need fixing, mostly because he has quite a bit more physical strength than me, and is taller/better able to reach a lot of things than I am. But he’s often not home, and I’ve realized that waiting for him to hang a picture on the wall is silly, because I’m fully capable of doing it too. (Sidebar: he is obsessed with things being perfectly centered wherever they are going, and I’m more of a “let’s eyeball it!” type of person. So, taking matters into my own hands and doing some things when he’s not around relieves me of the stress of watching him fumble with a tape measure just to hang one damn picture on the wall that would probably look fine if I stuck a nail in the wall and hung it up wherever using my best judgment. Win!)
5. Going to events.
I’m the type of person who, traditionally, hasn’t attended parties or events without armor. I always had a date or a boyfriend or a buddy I dragged along with me, or at the very least a person that I called on the phone an hour before and confirmed that they were going so they could be my social-anxiety-touchstone once I arrived. But I’m trying to break my buddy-system habit and start going to social events on my own, without really worrying about who else will be there. The way I see it, there are two options: I’ll either see people I know there, or meet new people. Either way, even if I somehow end up alone, I’ll still have a good time, because dammit, I’m a blast to be around!
6. Getting dressed up.
I have a lot of clothes that I love and feel beautiful in, and damn it, I’m sick of waiting for date nights or parties to bust them out! Dressing up doesn’t need to be something you do for the people around you (and you probably already knew that) so why not get dressed up for yourself? It might not be for everyone, but if you’re the type who likes to get dressed up in a special outfit, do it whenever and wherever you want — even if you’re just puttering around your house or running errands. Going to the grocery store in a cute dress and your sassiest heels is a #mood.
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