How To Enjoy Doing Things By Yourself

I have a very vivid memory from school of one of my friends telling me what she liked about me was that I am very independent. I don’t need anyone. Usually, I shop alone, I go to museums alone, there are a lot of things other people seem to need to have someone to do something with, I prefer to do alone. I had never really thought about how I manage to spend so much time in my own company, until I first moved to Los Angeles. I knew no one in the city except for my three roommates for the first week and a half, and when they were at work or away for the weekend and I was alone in an empty apartment, in the middle of a city I’d never visited before, in a country I was not entirely familiar with, I really started giving it some thought.

Photo by One and Only

I am a solitary person, more so than most, and that does not mean that I don’t enjoy other peoples company, but I also don’t have a problem doing practically anything by myself, from going to see a movie, going shopping (actually a lot of the time I prefer going alone, at the time of writing I have just got back from a trip to Westfield in Century City, and I has a much more productive trip than I had the last time I went with friends), or even eating a meal alone in a cafe or restaurant. I think there are great benefits to being able to be alone, it gives you a lot more independence not having to rely on other people, so I thought I’d put together a few tips on how to enjoy spending time by yourself.

  • Make plans. If you keep busy, a lot of the time you won’t notice you are by yourself, and your spending so much time having fun you are not feeling alone. On my laptop I have a list of places, such as farmers and flea markets, cafes and independent shops, one list for London and one list for Los Angeles of places that have been recommended to me, that I work my way through whenever I have time to myself. Make plans with yourself to do something fun just the same as you would making plans with your friends.
  • Enjoy the peace and quiet. When I lived in London I sometimes went and hid in the corner of a bookstore with a book, or went bookstore hopping looking for new and creative tomes I had not seen before – I have found books make just as good company as people! 
  • People watching is great fun in cafes and restaurants. People only look at people alone in restaurants and cafes and feel sorry for them if they look like they’re unhappy about their solitude – so don’t! Sometimes I sit and read, at other times I take time to really take in my surroundings. Look at the people sitting at the tables around you, what do you think their jobs are, their lives like, what do you think they are talking about? Making up stories for them is an incredible lot of fun! 
  • Do something nice for someone else. I love cooking and baking, and while it is sometimes fun to do this with someone (when I’m at my parents house I always cook with my Mother), but spending an afternoon baking a nice cake or batch of biscuits for someone else by yourself is wonderful, because you get all the excitement of looking forward to their reaction when you surprise them. I had the best time I’d had in ages a few weeks ago when I had the afternoon off of class and I baked double chocolate chip cookies for my roommates to enjoy when they got home.

Basically if you stay busy and creative, and take the time to take in your surroundings in a way that you don’t get to enjoy when you’re always plugged into your iPod or chatting with friends and family, you’ll come to enjoy spending time alone as much as you do when you’re surrounded by people, and you’ll be able to enjoy the freedom of not being tied to other peoples schedules. 

What are your tips for enjoying time spent alone?