When was the last time you enjoyed being alone? Really, truly solo? Us humans are social creatures but some past-times are best enjoyed outside the pack as fun solo activities. Often, these are the very same things prescribed as ‘group activities’. Yet, when you do them alone, they take on a whole new and more satisfying dimension. Throw any lingering self-consciousness you have to the wind and get involved with these nine gloriously solo rites:
Gorge yourself on street food
Street food feasting is more of a sacred ritual than just a fun thing to do. This is a very personal mission; a way of teasing the taste buds and exploring what exactly speaks to you, food-wise. You need to be agile enough to zoom in on all the best places – and also dodge between the crowds to get there. If you’re meandering about the maze of street food stalls in Djemaa el Fna square in Marrakech, for example, or getting to grips with the best pavement pop-ups for steaming beef pho in Hanoi’s Old Quarter, you can do so without an entourage slowing you down.
Whether it’s a llaucha (Bolivian empanadas) filled with creamy cheese sauce or a puffy egg waffle from a pavement corner in Buenos Aires, street food is of a calibre that deserves your undivided attention. By hopping between vendors in a new city, you also really tap into the soul of a place and meet new people in a way that you might not when travelling with others.
And food in general
Nearly all food has a special kind of quality when consumed alone. We’re all for a convivial meal and sharing bread, of course, but there’s a definite poetry that comes from picking out that one decadent desert or aperitif dish that could have been made just for you. When cooking, we often lean into a notion that we should only put in time and effort if someone else is eating with us. In actual fact, when eating alone, we can hold our own ceremonial gathering for one that involves zero planning or pressure, and is entirely impromptu.
Equally, you might want to head out to a nearby restaurant and indulge in a meal for one. No distractions, no chit-chat: just you and the food of the hour. The world of travel is opening up to solo dining, with places such as Japan and Amsterdam being especially good for it. Pop by your local patisserie, mix up a martini, and light up a few candles; this is one-on-one time for relishing life’s finer treasures.
Sing with reckless abandon
Countless studies show that singing in a choir is the ultimate mood-booster, conjuring up warm, fuzzy feelings related to community and belonging. You know what also feels good? Singing alone. There’s nothing like the feeling of a solo singalong, whether you’re in the car, the shower or trying karaoke for one.
As you belt out the lyrics to Destiny’s Child, or give Wham! a run for their money, there’s no room for judgement. Better still, you can give your voice a good airing in a way that a choir would almost certainly stifle. Those gravity-defying Mariah warbles? Those are yours for the taking. No-one will so much as silently wince. It’s powerful, powerful stuff.
Camp out in the wild
In her book Extreme Sleeps, British adventurer Phoebe Smith documents her journey to becoming a solo wild camper. She finds herself drawn to the thrill of being ‘out there’ alone in the hillsides of Britain.
“A place can seem more remote when you’re by yourself, away from the distraction of a companion,” she writes. “Alone, the silence and the time for quiet contemplation can make you see things you wouldn’t normally notice when entrenched in conversation. But very few people will ever purposefully go out of their way to find that extra dimension to an outdoors adventure,” she adds.
Though we often think of camping as a social activity, it opens up in a completely different sphere when you go it alone. And contrary to what many people assume, it’s not always rife with danger, either. As Phoebe points out, statistically there’s more danger in a city street than a cold mountain-top; and the biggest risk is nature itself. This is about you and the landscape. You tap into a very particular form of freedom and independence.
Mooch around without purpose
A difficulty of being with people is having to defer to what they want to do or finding a compromise. If you’re the kind of person who likes to just amble, it’s definitely a past-time to indulge in on your own; and a fun one at that. Rather than arrange what to do, simply enjoy having some time without a set agenda or purpose. Explore a new city or get reacquainted with the one that you love.
You might sunbathe in parks, wander around a boutique (or two), or dreamily drift to the nearest coffee shop/pub. The point is that delightful, free-flow state of being is only achieved fully alone. Better still you can shake loose and grab a little head space, free from the obligations that shape your everyday life.
Follow your heart around the world
Solo travel comes with so many benefits. When you travel alone, you’re more likely to reach out to those around you; you make connections and friendships in a way that can massively elevate your mood. You also develop bags of resilience and prove to yourself just how much you’re capable of: all of which is a boon to self-esteem.
Away from the hustle of your job and people who know you, you develop some perspective – you draw inspiration from the change in environment, and start thinking in a super creative way.
You don’t have to go it completely alone, naturally. Being apart from all the demands of your everyday life in the company of like-minded strangers can also spark off all kinds of positive changes. So, what are you waiting for? Jump on-board.
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Images: Flash Pack & Unsplash