There is something to be said for doing things alone, for forging your own path and moving through life to the beat of your own drum. It is a trait we admire in solo adventurers like Cheryl Sayed in ‘Wild’, or the brave young man Christopher McCandless as he enters the woods never to return home again in ‘Into the Wild.’ There is something alluring and magnetic about those who choose to go through journeys, or this life – alone.
Beyond pilgrimages, life tragedies, or solo travel, everyday societal norms urge us to question those who are alone. Are they weird? Why don’t they have any friends? Why would someone actually want to do something alone? But we don’t have to enter an odyssey or not have loved ones to do things by ourselves. In a world of constant distraction, it is enlivening to sit at a coffee shop silently, admire the blanket of stars above us, or bake a cake just to eat the damn thing all by yourself. Going and doing things by yourself is a key ingredient to the ever-changing recipe of our lives, our freedom, and our overall happiness.
If you’ve always been afraid to go it alone, try one of these first:
1. Drive. Take a long drive by yourself, hop in the car and go anywhere (maybe even better with no end destination in mind).
2. Re-read your old journals with a glass of wine in hand. We go through life so quickly, often forgetting days and weeks as they blend together, but maintaining and finding time to re-read my journals lets me press pause for a second and allows me to soak in the life flashing before my eyes.
3. Grab your polaroid camera, iPhone camera, or ANY camera and roam around your neighborhood. The nooks and crannies and spaces you see every day are teeming with wonder, it just takes a little intention (and maybe a camera lens) to uncover them.
4. Wake up at 4:30 for 21 days. It’s radical, it’s early, but it makes you feel like you can do anything if you put your mind (and alarm) to it. I tried this after watching a TED talk by Filipe Castro Matos, ‘How waking up at 4:30 am can change your life.”
5. Take pictures of human faces. I am trying to be better at this, to not be so afraid to ask people’s permission to let me capture their smile, their sadness, or however they are feeling. Our very own Annapurna Mellor is my inspiration to work harder to capture the essence and beauty behind faces all over the world.
6. Watch the sunrise from a new vantage point. Maybe someplace you spend every day, but you’ve never seen it while the sun rises.
7. Cook like you mean it. Cook a meal made for 5 (and maybe eat all the portions). Explore healthy recipes, decadent recipes, and then explore the art of cooking without a damn recipe. Try it all, taste it all.
8. Paint, sketch, color, draw. Even if you think you suck, you don’t. Put some music on, grab a bottle of wine, and see what comes out on the page.
9. Travel alone, try it once. It will change you in ways you cannot even imagine. Carving out space to see this world alone urges you to open up in a way that simply isn’t possible when you can fall back on a friend, lover, or travel companion. Everyone becomes your travel companion, and you learn a whole lot about self-trust and to trust in the strangers you meet along the way,
10. Take a photo every day for 1 year. At the end of the year, make a collage calendar of all your candids (I know this one is tough, but a good 2017 goal).
11. Sing, scream, chant, blow your lungs out by the ocean. There is something that simply feels good about screaming into the ocean, emptying your lungs, your thoughts, fears, dreams into its vastness.
12. Eat dinner alone. Either at a restaurant or at home. Try it without a book, without a human companion, without anything but yourself and maybe a flickering candle to keep you company.
13. Hike to the nearest body of water. Bring a picnic or book and spend the day absorbing the beauty around you.
14. Make a cup of tea, snuggle into your sheets, and write. I love doing this on Sundays. Sunday mornings are often sacred for me (unless I am nursing a bloody hangover). It is the perfect time to snuggle into my sheets, light some incense or a candle and read, write, explore my mind from the inside out.
15. Make a cup of coffee, jump in the car, and do one thing that terrifies you. It is often so much easier to curl up with Netflix, a blanket, and hide from the world. Some days laziness supersede adventure, but others call for you to move, to guzzle some caffeine, blast your stereo, and drive into your fears with a sense of reckless abandon.
16. Take physical note of 3 things you are lucky for. For me, this one is huge when I am having a rough day, it literally takes less than 3 minutes but can change the whole course of your day and pull you out of your funk.
17. Put yourself out there. Go to a networking event, bar, or group alone. This is a great way to make new friends, especially if you have just moved to a city.
18. Re-visit a city you have previously lived in. Revisiting cities brings up raw emotion – the warm feels, late nights, lost loves, but in my experience, it usually leaves me wide-eyed and smiling from ear to ear to remember the intricacies of that place. Maybe you dip your toes in the river where you stripped to your bare skin and dove in, visit the coffee shop where you awkwardly met a stranger for coffee who became your best friend or drive by the house where you learned to live alone. Exploring the insides of cities you lived in is always time well spent by yourself.
19. Pick up a new hobby WAY outside your comfort zone.
Take a woodworking class, try Jui-Jitsu, take a drawing class, join intramural softball, become a coder by night, learn how to sling drinks like a professional, the options are limitless.
20. Get Naked
When you have the house to yourself, act like a kid, run around the house naked, paint, draw, write, or cook naked. BE NAKED because it feels good, because it is freeing, and because why not?
Never let the obstacle of having to do something alone stop you from doing it. Whether that is enjoying a baguette in Paris, writing in your room on a Sunday, hiking in Patagonia, eating dessert alone, or simply painting in your backyard. There are too many things that hold us back from where, what, and who we want to be – don’t let the fear of doing things alone be one of them.