Follow up to the last blog, 4 Benefits to Spending Time Alone, here are some practical things you can do.

(If it helps, think of it as taking yourself out on dates!)

Number 1: Cafes

Cafes are an excellent way to try it out for the first time. Take your book, laptop, kindle, whatever. Find a cute corner cafe, and park yourself in it. Order something. Maybe chat with the barista, if they have time. Then relax, and enjoy what you ordered. Savor the moment. Look out the window and people watch. It may take several times to really feel it, but eventually you’ll be able to chill in a public place and not feel awkward, weird, or idiotic.

And if someone gives you a funny look, ignore them. You’re doing something to help you.

Grabbed a snack at a cafe in Mallaig, Scotland just before hopping the ferry to Skye

2: Cinemas

Once you’re comfortable with cafes, maybe its time to upgrade. Take yourself to a movie. Go watch the one you’ve been dying to see but couldn’t get anybody else to go with you. It’s okay to go on your own.

Really.

Take the time to enjoy the story, soak it up. What did you like? What didn’t you like?

3: Restaurants

Yep! Time to take yourself out for a meal!

Eating alone in a public environment can be difficult, especially if you’re new to the whole alone thing. Talk to yourself! Aloud, silently, what ever works. Bring a book a nook or a kindle. It helps the first few times to have something to do.

Whatever you do, don’t for get to enjoy your food!

4: Walking/Hiking

First off, always let somebody know where you’re going, and when they can expect you back, especially if you’re heading for a trail that doesn’t get too many visitors. Safety first!

I find walking to be the perfect place for contemplation, particularly if there’s something in my life I’m worked up about. Family drama, work stress, partner issues…All of these things can be taken with you on a walk, and they might just make you work harder at it. I’d find myself walking faster as I muttered and grumbled about the current idiocies I was dealing with, and by the time I was done, would be so much calmer and better able to deal with things in an intelligent manner because I’d worked off my frustration and anger.

Okay, I’m not completely alone. I had my nephews’ school project with me. Totally adorable, based on the Flat Stanley kid’s book. Took them for a walk in Aviemore, Scotland. This in Loch an Eilein (pronounced EE-len)

5. Camping/Road Trip

After weeks or months of getting used to being alone in the short term, it’s time to practice the Big One: an overnighter.

If camping is your thing, just remember to be safe, and let friends or family know where you’re going and when they can expect you back. Campsites work, but do a little research first. I’ve heard of people who’ve had things stolen from their tent, though so far I’ve been lucky.

My Snugpak bivvy tent, Camino de Santiago, Spain

An overnight road trip, spending the night in a hostel or hotel is great if you’re feeling a bit insecure or if you prefer some comfort. How you go doesn’t matter, just that you do.

If you go to a hostel, you won’t be completely alone, but that’s perfectly fine. You’ll be around a bunch of strangers which gives you a singular freedom: because you’ll likely never see these people again, you can be completely honest with what you want to do with your life, where you want to go and who you want to be. I’ve found little to no judgement amongst travellers and heaps of encouragement.

Sometimes this happens to your tent – broken tent poles. Be prepared with tape! (If a hostel is nearby, that works even better!)

Most of being alone is learning about yourself, and being comfortable with who you really are, after all.

I used to walk to work most days. Two miles there, two miles home. I started out listening to my ipod, but since I left for work early (around 4 am) and I’m a suspicious person, I preferred to leave it at home so I could hear what was happening around me. Eventually, I started talking to myself, working through my issues or dissecting the morals in some great story I’d just read.

It got to the point that one day at work, one of the guys came up to me and said, “I saw you walking yesterday. Your hands were waving everywhere. You were talking to yourself, weren’t you?” He was grinning at me in an ‘I know what you did, you were a dumbass, weren’t you?’ kind of way.

Oops. Caught in the act, being a complete and total dork. However, by this time I’d been walking alone for a year or more, and I was pretty chill with the whole ‘talking to myself like a lunatic’ thing.

I responded with a “Yup! But I figure as long as I’m not answering back, I’m still sane! Ish.”

Learning to be alone is the first step to being able to separate what you think from what you’ve been taught to think. Alone, you have the peace and solitude to listen to yourself.

Discover your thoughts and dreams without influence from outside sources.

 

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