1. Go out to eat.
It’ll probably feel strange at first, and you might think every single person in the restaurant (especially your server) is staring at/judging/pitying you, but just relax. If they are looking at you, it’s because they’re thinking, Whoa, how cool, that person must be so confident and at ease with himself; one day I hope I, too, can dine alone. Bonus if it’s a long and decadent three-courser.
2. Get a cocktail.
There are few things as exhilarating as going to a bar alone. Somehow it feels transgressive. Am I really doing it? you’ll think to yourself, looking around. I’m just going to sit at this bar and order a drink and drink it alone and no one will stop me? And that is exactly what you’ll do. Bring a book, notebook, crossword, knitting, whatever. You’ll find it’s surprisingly relaxing. Be warned, though, there are people who will read your solitude as an invitation for pickup lines. Shut that down immediately. (Unless you’re into it, which, in that case, go for it.)
Let’s be real, this one is definitely one of the scarier prospects. But the payoff is that much greater. Once you arrive, settle down into your hotel (or better yet a hostel, but more on that later), and venture into the city — you’ll be overwhelmed by a sense of freedom. You can go anywhere you want, eat whatever you want, wake up and go to sleep whenever you want. There is no negotiation of itineraries, and you can either plan your whole trip to the minute or wing it as you go. If things go astray, you’ll figure it out — and you’ll leave feeling like you can take on anything.
4. Stay at a hostel.
When you do travel alone, it’s tempting to pamper yourself in a nice, private hotel. And by all means, treat yourself. But it’s worth going solo at a youth hostel at least once, if not only for the cheaper beds. Chances are you’ll find other independent travelers bunking next to you, and these roommates could turn into travel buddies and eventually, perhaps, lifelong friends. Also, hostels cater to young travelers and are great resources for local activities, day trips, or live events.
5. See a movie.
Sitting alone in a theater isn’t only relaxing (though it is that, surprisingly), it also allows you time to process what you just saw before hearing everyone else’s opinions. You can just chill straight through the credits if you want! And if you’re feeling especially adventurous, go in the middle of the afternoon. It’s cheaper and will feel downright luxurious.
6. Go to a live show.
Ideally this show is in tight, dark place with lots of dancing, where there’s no pressure to meet the people around you because such a task would be nearly impossible anyway. No one will even realize you’re alone, because they (like you) will be too busy just ~ experiencing ~ the music. Plus, there is something very liberating about dancing with a bunch of people you will likely never see again.
7. Hit the mall.
There is such freedom in shopping alone. You don’t have to sit through your friend trying on every sweater from that store you actually kind of hate, and, likewise, you don’t have to put anyone you love through that, either. You can stroll around for as long as you’d like, knowing that you’re trusting nothing but your own instincts (and budget).
8. Go to the beach…
…or the lake, or the park. Basically, on one of those rare occasions when your day off coincides with beautiful weather, pack yourself a quick picnic and relax in nature. Read a book. Take a nap. Bring a camera! You’ll be so keyed into your surroundings that you’ll never want to leave.
The nice thing about working out is that it’s such a great opportunity to get in tune with yourself. Your body is basically screaming to be heard, and the best way to pay attention is to do it alone. Your actual workout will benefit from your focus, and you’ll feel super empowered — especially if you’re at the gym.
10. Go to a party.
So none of your friends will let you drag them to that party your acquaintance or new co-worker is throwing. SO WHAT? Just show up fashionably late (to ensure that other people will actually be there), say hello to the host, and then drink and mingle. Talk about that article you read. Or the new season of Game of Thrones. Or test out a new joke? Who knows! You’re an interesting, intelligent, and friendly guest, and the host invited you for a reason.
11. Visit a museum.
Take time to linger in the exhibits that interest you. Skip the ones that don’t. Take a break for a bite at the café, stroll through the gift shop, and then go back for more. Don’t leave until it’s dark out.
12. Cook a meal at home.
If you ever want to be reassured of your self-sufficiency, cook yourself a full meal at home. There are probably a lot of people who do this regularly (and to you I say: that is amazing, what is your life like?), but for those who are more reliant on takeout, delivery, and frozen dishes, this can be a remarkably empowering feat. It doesn’t have to be something crazy, and you certainly don’t have to be a culinary master. But the full process — from finding the recipe, to shopping for ingredients, to putting it together, and then enjoying it with maybe a glass of wine and some music — is one that will leave you feeling happy and at ease.