Tip #76: How to spend time by yourself

Written by: Tasha

For the first few months I lived in Boston, I spent a lot of time by myself. I had one friend living in the city (well, three if we’re stretching the term “friend” to include “rando craigslist roommates”) and a not-very-demanding job that got me home every night by 5:30. This meant I spent a lot of time hanging out in my room, twiddling my thumbs, waiting for it to be tomorrow so I could go back to work and interact with other humans again.

For those of you who are thinking, “This woman’s life sounds very sad, what a sad lady,” don’t worry. I eventually made friends / started leaving my apartment regularly. BUT in that awkward 3–6 month window, I learned that alone time isn’t so bad. Sometimes it can actually be great. (I also learned that my voice sounds like a cartoon witch when I don’t use it for two days.)

So, for interested parties, I’ve collected my findings from this truly bizarre period of my life. A.K.A., my top tips for learning how to spend time alone:

  • Get a hobby

I’ve never really been a “hobby” person, but that changed VERY quickly in those first few months out of college. It turns out sitting on your bed, staring at the wall doesn’t really fill the time like you’d think it would, and you can only organize your closet, polish your shoes and color code your bookshelf so many times. So, I decided to become a ~lady who crafts.~ This basically consisted of me driving to a suburban A.C. Moore, and buying one of everything. I quickly learned from a very peppy sales associate named Louanne that there are a million types of craft ladies– knitters, scrapbookers, card-makers, needle-pointers, woodworkers, etc. And she somehow convinced me to go full throttle on all of them. If you’re thinking to yourself, “that sounds like a terrible idea,” you are correct.

Did most of my experimental knitting projects go awry? Yes. Did I have a small incident with the exacto knife almost immediately? Of course. BUT I learned many new skills, and, besides the exacto knife incident, had a perfectly lovely time learning them. So, if you find yourself faced with huge stretches of free time– find a way to fill them. Read for fun, learn how to play an instrument (but don’t forget to cool it), make every afternoon a “crafternoon” (Charlotte™), the world is your oyster.

  • LEAVE YOUR HOUSE

No matter how many ill-advised craft projects you have going on, you can’t spend all your time alone in your room. (I mean you can, but that puts you very close to the “sad lady” category.) Going places alone can seem weird at first. You may find yourself thinking, “Are people wondering why I’m eating at a Wagamama alone? Maybe they think I’m part of this group of French tourists? Should I pretend I speak French? What do I do with my hands?” etc. But instead of trying to order “un glass of d’eau, S’IL VOUS PLAÎT” I suggest you just own it, enjoy the delish food, and remind yourself that NO ONE cares why you’re there alone. (Unless you keep ordering things in broken french with a wild look in your eyes. Then they might start to worry about you.)

Going to movies, visiting museums, or just walking through the city are all perfectly fine things to do alone. So, if your social calendar is empty this weekend, the hood/scarf/shawl disaster you’re knitting can wait; get yourself out of the house.

  • Make time for alone time

Once you have a full life going on, a.k.a. a work life AND a social life, your alone time will slowly start to disappear. And, if you’ve been a solo-riding loner for the past six months, this may be a very exciting revelation. But, as Charlotte mentioned in her post this week, 24/7 human interaction can be a little much. So before you respond to every social invitation with an enthusiastic “I RSVP YES I HAVE NOTHING GOING ON EVER WHERE SHALL WE MEET?” make sure you save some time for yourself too.

Major Takeaways:

  1. If you’re staring down 48 hours of unscheduled alone time this weekend, it may be time for a trip to A.C. Moore. Ask for Louanne, she’ll tell you everything you need to know about beginner woodworking.
  2. Just because your social calendar is empty doesn’t mean you can’t fill it yourself. Also pro-tip: if you go to the movies alone you can get those pizza hot-pockets you’ve always wanted to try but have been too embarrassed to order. Another pro-tip: movie theater pizza hot-pockets actually taste like garbage.
  3. Once you’ve gotten very comfortable spending all your free time alone, you might start to miss it. So, even if you have great friends, it’s nice to still go to Wagamama by yourself every now and then. (Who cares if they think you’re a sad French tourist.)