1. You get to pick the activities. No compromises on what movie to see or where to go for dinner. Going to the movies alone seems particularly challenging to people, conceptually, but if you think about it, why not? You’re just sitting in the dark staring at the screen, and if you’re a considerate person, you’re not having conversations anyway. We watch TV alone, why not movies? Plus you get to keep your popcorn all to yourself, which just makes movies better. Hell, it makes everything better.
2. It makes you more creative. If you’ve ever been in a brainstorming meeting with a group of people, you know how stultifying it can be. “There are no bad ideas,” they say, but we know there are TONS of bad ideas, and having to pretend they’re good and spend time discussing them is a creativity-killer. So is not speaking up because you haven’t had a chance to think your own ideas through and you’re worried about what people will think. Being alone gives you the freedom to develop your ideas until you feel good about them without the obstacle of having to pretend someone else’s are fabulous and brilliant when they’re not.
3. It’s liberating. While some might think that going to a concert alone could feel really weird, I can tell you that it can be quite freeing. Three of us went to a concert last year but couldn’t score seats together, so I ended up by myself on the other side of the stadium. I didn’t make friends with the people around me, but I also didn’t give a crap about how I looked dancing to my favorite songs or even occasionally singing along with the crowd.
4. It can actually help ease depression. A study found that being alone was helpful for teens, who are prone to depression, and helps them become more well-adjusted. This makes sense when you think about how miserable you can feel when you’re in a group and you still feel lonely; it’s exponentially lonelier, in my experience.
5. It makes it easier to meet people. I have brave friends who’ve traveled alone, and they always end up meeting new people and trying things they might not have tried otherwise. Stepping away from the insulation of your own group makes you more open to new people and experiences.
For those who are still uncomfortable with the idea, there are ways to get around some of the more familiar obstacles. Want to eat alone without being bothered by other people? Bring a book. If you’re absorbed enough, you’re sending out a pretty strong leave-me-alone message to potential flirts. If you can’t get past how people might judge you, you can bring a laptop or a tablet to keep you looking busy and focused. And studies reported that people who went to art galleries alone had exactly the same happy experience as those who went in groups, despite their anticipation that they wouldn’t. I remember exploring each floor of the Van Gogh Museum while my husband wandered around elsewhere, and it was a magical experience, untainted by the guilt of his potential boredom.
And remember, when you do venture out alone, nobody’s paying as much attention to you as you think. You’re not really being judged; most people are too wrapped up in themselves to notice. When in doubt, bring your phone, so you’ll have someone to talk to when you’ve had enough.