Why It’s Important to Do Things Alone

In step with our challenge on self-care (that we each had a rough time with), we have another important idea to touch on: doing things alone. Like Samantha mentioned in her challenge write-up, sometimes you need to prioritize the activities that you are interested in doing yourself, even if it means rearranging your life to make time for it. I know how hard it can be to carve out time for those things that don’t seem immediately important, and how it’s not always easy to get yourself to follow through on the things you really want to do, but if you don’t push yourself, who else will?

Maybe you’re in a relationship and you tell yourself that you’ll wait until your partner is free so you can do an activity you’re interested in doing together.
Maybe you get anxious about the idea of going out to dinner or to the movies alone.
Maybe you think that since you don’t see your friends as often as you’d like, why wouldn’t you take every opportunity you could to invite them along for your plans?
Maybe you feel like you can’t justify spending money to go to a show if you’re not meeting anyone there.
Maybe you’re afraid of the alone time — without the company of others, you’re left to focus on your own thoughts.

Regardless of why you’re pushing off your plans, you could be missing out! If you wait until a friend can go with you to the art exhibit you’ve been excited to check out, you might not get around to it before it closes. Or if you want to try your hand at pottery classes but are uncomfortable going by yourself (which is totally normal, by the way), you might never find out that working with clay fulfills you in an unexpected way! All you can do is try your best (and then try again and again) to not let your discomfort or others’ schedules get in the way of doing the things you want to do.

You need to consider that the people in your life might not have the same interests and priorities as you — that’s part of what makes us all unique. Pursuing our own individual interests is what we all need to feel more fulfilled, to build our skills and experiences, and to learn more about ourselves. I mean, you may hate making pottery, but at least you’ll discover that! Then you can try screen printing, or crocheting!

A bonus to doing things on your own is that you won’t have to worry about whether or not you’re keeping your friend waiting, or conversely, rushing them along. You’ll be able to move at your own pace and decide when you’re ready to leave and do something else.

A related skill that my partner and I have found important is learning to be “alone together.” The two of us share an apartment (with our cat) and we both have been working from home a lot lately, so this means we spend much of our time around each other. But this doesn’t mean we are constantly interacting — we recognize that we have our own schedules and needs, and we give each other space to focus on our own lives, even when we’re in the same room.

If you are an extrovert, or you just enjoy the company of others, working “alone together” with a friend is an easy way to push yourself to be productive while also having someone to meet with (which is great if you need an accountabili-buddy). It might be tough to resist catching up with your friend, but just let them know your expectations up front. You might even say that you need to work on your project for X amount of time, but then you’d love to talk about life. Whatever you need! You’ll probably find that your friends have work to do, too, and that they welcome the idea of working in your company.

Ready to make some time for yourself? Here are some ideas for activities to try solo:

  • See a movie
  • Go to a museum
  • Go to an art gallery
  • Go thrifting/antiquing
  • Take a class (think cooking, art, woodworking, writing, exercise, etc.)
  • Take yourself out to eat or for a drink
  • Have a picnic
  • Go for a walk or hike
  • Explore a nearby town/city
  • Take a tour (of a brewery/winery/farm/factory)
  • See a band or comedian
  • Spend some time browsing at a library or bookstore
  • Do something you enjoyed as a child (going to the fair, rollerblading, making a snowman or sandcastle)
  • Volunteer
  • People watch (or dog watch!)
  • Go shopping
  • Stargaze
  • Attend a meet-up or talk