Here are the five best ways to get comfortable in solitude:
1. Mark it in the calendar.
Until you fully recognize the value of alone time, you may be tempted to overcommit to family, friends, and even work obligations to avoid having to sit with yourself. Pick a day each week and block out two hours. This "me" time should be treated with as much sanctity as your most important work meeting. Plan ahead. Indulge in a treat (reading a book with a glass of wine, gardening, salsa lessons) that is uniquely inspiring to you.
2. Start small.
“Would you run 15 miles at your first practice for the marathon? To achieve a lofty goal, develop small, incremental steps that increase in difficulty gradually,” said Aimee.
Eat lunch at a restaurant alone. Go to a matinee solo. Take a day trip to explore a neighboring town. As you get comfortable, you’ll be ready for bigger triumphs — a weekend away, and eventually maybe an overseas vacation.
3. Bring props, if necessary.
Despite my experience, I sometimes still experience moments of unease. A good book, newspaper, travel guide, or journal eases the discomfort of eating dinner at a restaurant alone. And these “props” serve a dual purpose — they provide entertainment for me (for when I want to be alone) but also fodder for conversation when I'm in the mood to chitchat with a stranger.
4. Be open to people and adventure.
Being alone isn’t about being closed off. In fact, solo adventure usually spawns new friendships and experiences.
During that first solo trip to Argentina, I signed up for a bike tour of Buenos Aires. Coincidentally, my tour group included a classmate of mine from graduate school. Imagine the chances! Years later, we still share a love of international adventure.
When you’re comfortable being alone, you’re remarkably approachable (and intriguing). You’ll make new friends, take different paths, eat unusual foods, and have conversations that forever change your outlook. Be open and the world will provide riches in abundance.
5. Learn to be comfortable in the discomfort of others.
In a society that often measures friendship by quantity rather than quality, the decision to cultivate solitude may be unnerving to others. Expect quizzical inquiries.
Develop strength in your convictions, and refuse to allow another person’s discomfort (and their projection onto you) to alter your goals. Be ready for the ubiquitous question, “Why are you alone?” Without a trace of defensiveness, state your truth simply and succinctly.
“I enjoy solo adventures,” is a great response.
“If you’re confident and positive (and having fun), others will be inspired by your willingness to take an unconventional path. They may even ask you for advice on where to begin their own journey,” said Aimee.
If you enjoy your time alone and have tips to share, please leave them in the comments section. We’d love to hear from you.
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