The other day, I had plans to go out with Mum. We were going to watch a movie, and then go dress shopping for a couple of weddings coming up this summer. However, that morning, Mum woke up feeling ill, and wasn’t able to come along. So, instead of cancelling the day, I just went on my own. (I’d like to point out here that the movie wasn’t one Mum was too bothered about.)
Yes, I go out alone. And people seem to think this is strange, or out of the ordinary, and I don’t really understand why.
I’ve had my brother – who often goes to the cinema alone – that I shouldn’t do the same, because it’s sad for a girl to go on her own. Apparently, if a girl goes alone, it looks like she’s Billy-no-mates. I’ve also had my aunt tell me she thinks it’s really brave when I went to a restaurant nearby on my own, that she couldn’t do it. I was completely bewildered; what’s brave about going out to have a steak on my own?
Of course, I love going out with friends and family, but I’m also perfectly happy in my own company. I’m not going to let a lack of company stop me from doing the things I want to do, the things I enjoy. And nor should you.
There is a major advantage to doing things solo: you only have to please yourself. For example, when going to:
- The cinema – I get to choose which film, and what time.
- The pub – I decide how much I drink, and when I’m done, when I want to leave. I don’t feel bad about leaving people. Or staying out when they want to leave. I can sit there with my vodka and bitter lemon, and enjoy the music.
- A restaurant – There are no quibbles about what kind of restaurant I go to. Do I fancy a Chinese? An Indian? Pizza? Nope, because they’re not my bag. I want me a steak!
- A museum/gallery – There’s no-one to rush me or slow me down. I get to take exactly as much time as I like appreciating the exhibits. Sometimes I want to linger over a painting I particularly like, and others I have no interest in I want to walk right past. Alone, there’s no-one wanting me to hurry up, and no-one wants me to wait while they enjoy looking at artefacts I couldn’t care less about.
- A gig/concert – We don’t all have the same music tastes. I don’t know about you, but I would much rather see a band I love on my own, than feel like I’ve forced someone to come along with me, who isn’t enjoying the music, and almost rains on my parade when all I want to do is sing loud and dance and be filled with awe at the talent of these artists I so admire.
- Shop all day – Again, no-one to rush me or slow me down. No-one tries to drag me to a shop I know won’t buy anything from. No-one giving me unwanted criticism when I feel amazing in a dress, or praise when I know a blouse does nothing for me. No-one I have to try and give tactful advice to about the purchases they’re considering.
- The park – I get some relative peace and quiet. I love to sit on a bench and read a book, or do some writing. Or listen to some music as I enjoy watching the sunlight play across the lake. Maybe even feed the ducks. You can just relax. No-one is there to tell me they’re bored, or they’re cold, or trying to make me go for a walk about when I want to sit, or making me sit when I want to walk about.
And in general, it’s just really good to spend some time on you. Not thinking about others. Just yourself. And it’s not being selfish, it’s you looking after yourself. It’s self-care, giving yourself the time to unwind and de-stress. Some time to breath.
You could even make a big thing of it, make it a date; book a morning, afternoon, evening or a whole day in the week that’s just for you, and on the day, dress up – put on an outfit you feel great in, make-up and jewellery to match if that’s your thing, and hell, why not buy yourself a bunch on flowers?! Make yourself feel special. Get back in touch with you and do whatever makes your heart sing. (Click to tweet.)
Perhaps that doesn’t even involve leaving the house, maybe for you it will be a pamper day, time in the bath with your favourite lotions and potions, with some candles and relaxing music, followed by your favourite DVD and some popcorn and a glass on wine.
Spending time alone – whether indoors or out – doesn’t make you sad. It doesn’t mean you have no friends, or that no-one is interested. It’s just you spending time with the most amazing person you know: yourself. And you know you’ll definitely be in for a great morning/afternoon/evening/day!
And I’m not the only one who thinks this! Do check out Stratejoy’s How to Date Yourself in Ten Ways, eHarmony’s 5 Reasons to Date Yourself and Thought Catalog’s 24 Dates to Take Yourself On for more benefits and more ideas for fun things to do alone.
Is doing things alone something you find hard? Or what things do you enjoy doing on your own? Also, if you’re in London, any suggestions on somewhere little-known or underrated I can check out? I’ve pretty much done all the usual places and I’m looking for something new!