Being by yourself can be beneficial.
A couple of years ago, I went to San Francisco alone for a conference. Since it was my first time visiting, I decided that I’d stay through the weekend and explore the city. I woke up each morning and walked to a little diner down the street from my hotel for food, rode a sightseeing tour bus around town and visited a bunch of local attractions. It didn’t take long for me to notice how freeing it all felt.
When you take trips with other people, there’s always someone else that you have to consider. Sometimes, you even have to completely concede to another person in order to avoid tension and ensure that you have an enjoyable time. It’s important to be able to compromise and accommodate others. Anyone who doesn’t know how or refuses to do this won’t be much fun to be around. However, as an INFP-A “mediator” personality who is guided by principles and motivated by peace, I’m usually always the one doing the accommodating.
I loved my solo exploration of San Francisco so much that I did it again when visiting Washington D.C. for a seminar. I didn’t even attempt to seek out other attendees to hang with. I thoroughly enjoyed sitting outside with breakfast and a book before the day’s sessions began. During my downtime, I took another tour bus and got off at almost all of the national monuments, landmarks and historical buildings. There was no skipping stops because someone wasn’t interested.
I stayed in museums as long as I wanted, until one of them closed. The only thing I didn’t do was twirl through the halls. No one complained about their feet hurting or being tired and ready to go. Full tourist mode was activated. I even hopped on a rent-a-bike and cruised around downtown. I lingered, people-watched and took tons of photos — including some taken of me by nice people with whom I had engaging conversation. This was one of the best trip experiences I’d ever had.
Better to be alone than in bad company. Better to be in good company than alone.
I truly believe that message. So, I won’t pretend that doing things with other people always sucks. Even the greatest experiences can be made better when shared. But being and doing things alone shouldn’t be viewed as a negative or circumstance to be avoided. There are many pleasures to be derived from autonomous outings and adventures.
When doing things alone, you can focus 100 percent on you, your needs and desires with no outside interference. You can do what makes you happy and make decisions without having to consider the feelings of or consult with another. This is important because pouring into others without replenishing ourselves is how we end up trying to pour from empty cups. We need these times of self-indulgence for our mental and emotional well-being. Even if that time is spent doing nothing at all.
Focusing on yourself serves as a reminder that you matter. You see yourself as a whole person and are reminded of who you are independent of anyone else. In these moments, that person feels like enough. You remember how much you enjoy things that you haven’t been able to do in a while.
Balance is key. It’s true that we teach people how to treat us. We have to make ourselves number one sometimes because constantly putting our desires on the backburner for others ensures that’s where they’ll stay.
Don’t let not having someone to go with stop you from doing anything.
I’ve even gone to concerts alone on occasion, because no one else in my circle was a fan of the artist. That may be the one that takes a little getting used to. Music by nature is a medium that brings people together, creating a communal atmosphere. Dancing and singing along with the band is definitely more fun and less awkward when you’re with someone. The thing is, once the show starts it’s fine. Alone or not, I always feel like I’m just here for the music. I get lost in it. The fellowship is secondary.
There is this inner calm, this quiet delight that comes from doing things alone. There is no one to please, no negative energy or bad vibes. There is minimal dialogue. You can immerse yourself in thought or be captivated by surrounding beauty. You learn so much about yourself, who you are and what you like. Then, in feeding your soul these things and making personal joy a priority — you learn how to love yourself.