There are two things I get asked the most by friends, families, and even strangers – the first being, “Aren’t you scared?” My response: “No, because I am safe.”
The second question is always something to the effect of, “Don’t you get lonely?”
Again, nope. Well. A little. Sometimes. Because, don’t all humans?
I have always been comfortable being on my own, and in most cases, I prefer to be alone. But even if you absolutely dread seclusion, you’re not a lost cause. Over the years, my own relationship with solitude has been strengthened with a little work. Here are some tricks to enjoy spending a surplus of “me, myself, and I” time:
1. Start in small doses.
Not everyone can tackle a week or month long solo trip right off the bat. A few years ago I took a solo trip to Belgium and hated it; if I took that trip now, it would be a different story. Work your way up! Start with weekly long walks, like to the grocery store or just laps around your neighborhood park, and practice being occupied exclusively with your own thoughts. Advance to longer hikes, solo camping or backpacking, and road trip weekend getaways.
2. Avoid your phone.
One issue with our generation is that we have become so reliant on our phone for company that we have grown to detest and even fear being alone – even in the “virtual” sense. While I think every solo adventurer should keep their cell handy for safety reasons, I highly advise exercising your will power and use your smartphone sparingly. When we spend our alone time scrolling through Instagram or Facebook, we are impairing our ability to enjoy true isolation and we create an unhealthy dependency on our devices during these moments of solitude.
3. Create entertainment.
Yes, I said no phones, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some amusement. Bring along a book, catch up on happenings via a good ol’ newspaper, break out a sketchbook and pencils to get in touch with your artsy side, or carry a journal to jot down thoughts or ideas. There are even a few card games suitable for solo play. It not only feels good to be self-sufficient, but even better to be sustained without technology.
4. Talk it out.
When people are lonely, it’s typically rooted in missing the simple act of talking to someone. Fortunately, you can fulfill this role for yourself. I’m not sure when or why talking to yourself became socially unacceptable, even deemed “crazy” – talking to yourself has been proven to improve mood, relieve stress, and work out problems. It’s extremely therapeutic and provides that feeling of company that we often yearn for when alone for a significant amount of time.
5. Know your limits.
There’s a fine line between being happy alone and sad alone. There’s a tipping point for most people – yup, even me – when extended solitude causes depression. If your mood is feeling a little off, consider spending some time with friends to recharge. While it is important to learn to love being alone, socializing is has its benefits as well and having a balanced lifestyle is key to ultimate happiness.
Do you like being or traveling alone? Or do you prefer a little company?