One of my fondest memories from my twenties is the time I lived alone. That period in my life played a vital role in shaping my personal growth and outlook on life. Of course, it wasn’t always fun and many times it got lonely (eating dinner in front of the TV laughing out loud to reruns of Park & Rec every night has its pros and cons). But generally speaking, between my Cooking for One cookbooks and spare bedroom turned walk-in closet, there was a lot of freedom to living alone. More importantly though, during those years I learned so much about myself and how incredibly important it is to feel comfortable being alone sometimes.
One of my favorite YouTube videos of all time, How to be Alone is one I found many years ago (way before I lived alone) during a pretty dark time in my life. It moved me beyond words. Years later and to this day when life feels like it’s bursting at the seams with love, blessings, and happiness, I still relate to this video, because I will always believe in the power of being alone – and this is coming from an extrovert who gets their energy from being around people.
There are a number of simple, low-cost to free ways I like to spend my time by myself. Here are ten of them:
Go to the movies alone. As a teenager, the thought of doing this would have terrified me but I absolutely love to this alone as an adult. Of course, I enjoy going to the movies with friends and family, but there’s something really special about catching a movie by yourself. Snot and tears in the dark? No shame in my game.
Go to the library. My favorite library in Akron is the Main library downtown. Walking around this massive building is so much fun. My husband and I will go on dates here on Sundays but I also love to go alone, grab a cup of coffee and read something I don’t typically read on a regular basis, like a book of short stories or poems that I can read in one sitting.
Take a drive through Sand Run Park. Taking a solo walk is always on the list, but one of my favorite things to do is to play a really great song and drive the few miles through Sand Run Park because it’s breathtakingly beautiful all year round.
Stage a photo shoot. When I lived alone, I spent countless hours practicing photography around the house. I’m talking to the point where I would be sweating and out of breath when I was done. I still do this, even if my husband is home. It’s a fun way to spend time alone in the house while tapping into your creative side. You don’t need a fancy camera, your phone will do just fine.
Dine out alone. Again, one of those things I would have never done by myself as a teen or even in my early twenties. There’s no shame in grabbing a bite to eat alone.
Write notes for the “hell-o” of it. I love sending notes in the mail. Pick up a pack of inexpensive stationary and write hello, thank you or I miss you notes to loved ones.
Explore a new park and leave the headphones at home. Listen to the birds, the kids, and the sounds of nature. Summit Metro Parks has many great resources available to help you find a new park, including the Fall Hiking Spree.
Listen to a podcast. Time flies when I am listening to an engaging podcast. I especially love The Moth and This American Life.
Catch the sunset in your car. You know that feeling when you’re driving home and you catch the sunset or a cotton candy sky and you dangerously try to snap a picture in your car? I’ll try to this this (the safe way) sometimes by driving west in the evening and parking in a lot or park to catch the sunset or just look at the colorful sky. Sometimes a smoothie, latte or frozen yogurt is involved.
Take a free or low-cost class. I’ll try anything from Bollywood dance classes to yoga. Some of the most fun I had was joining a book club at the library where everyone else was at least 50 years my senior.
What do you like to do by yourself?