Happy new year!! Or something. It’s 2020 and everyone is going to publish their health and wellness stories, their personal goals, and lists of things to do. There’s simply just no way to get around it. If you’ve been following me on Twitter or Instagram the last two months (I’m so sorry about that), you’ve probably noticed my mood hasn’t been the best, but I’ve been taking the steps to mentally prepare for a new year, and a refreshed outlook on life.
I’ve been especially introspective these last few months; it’s a personal thing. And because of that, my way of thinking (and speaking, and writing) has been more contemplative (and confused) than focused. But after starting therapy and spending A LOT of time with the people who matter the most to me, I’ve started to discover more of what I want out of this new year.
So, with the rough ending to the last year, here I am in the new year. And I’m ready for a whole new attitude and new outlook on life: new year, new you, etc. etc. Here we go!
Other Wellness & New Year’s Posts
One of the things I’m determined to summon this year is a new energy on life: and now that I’m 35 (gasp), I’ve come to realize (or at least re-realize) is that your life is just that: yours. So I’m making this new year the year of ME.
And bonus: 2020 in the Chinese New Year’s Calendar is the Year of the Rat. The Chinese / Lunar calendar runs from January 25, 2020 to February 11, 2011. And I was born in the Year of the Rat—so it’s just further proof that this is going to be MY YEAR.
One of the first things about making the year yours is feeling comfortable with yourself. And that means doing things by yourself. I’ve been a solo traveler for a long time (since a very early backpacking trip in college), and have always advocated for it. It’s a great way to travel and to learn as much about the world as yourself.
Solo Travel Blogs
- Solo Trip to the Catskills – Using Expedia’s App for Solo Travel
- Solo Gay Travel as a Backpacker – What You Need to Know!
- 8 Reasons Why You Should Book a Gay Group Tour as A Solo Traveler
- Finding Your Tribe: How to meet other LGBTQ travelers
- How Do you Define Your “Community”?
- 4 Reasons to Take a Language Course When Traveling
But newly single, lacking a solid friend group at the moment, and lacking a desire to travel too far, I’ve been doing more and more things alone here in New York City. And it’s not as bad as I would have thought. (Even for this semi-extrovert.)
Here’s my guide on places where it’s easy and even comfortable to hang out alone; those things you can do without over-thinking. So: grab your phone and head out to one of these places to take a solo selfie!
Easy Things To Do Alone
1. Go to a café
Perhaps the easiest thing to do alone, in New York City or anywhere, is to just go to a café. They’re easy places to sit alone and think or work, especially Starbucks cafés. Free wifi gives you a place outside of your home or your hotel/Airbnb to do work or internet things.
But also, cafes were once upon a time very social places. They were meeting spots for philosophers and artists; and truthfully, that’s still the case today. If you go to a particularly hipster café or coffee spot, you may see lots of individual people sitting alone, but I think in many instances, you shouldn’t necessarily be afraid to start up a conversation with a stranger.
2. See a movie
Movie theaters are notoriously safe and comfortable places for anyone unfamiliar with the solo / single lifestyle. You’re sitting in a dark theater staring at a screen unable to use your phone, so it doesn’t really matter if you’re alone or not, right?
Sure, I do enjoy seeing movies with friends because then you can discuss what you liked or didn’t like about the film afterward, but in a world where everyone is always so busy anyways, what’s it matter if you watch a movie alone, and then catch up with friends at a later date.
Personally, I love attending film festivals alone because they’re great ways to experience art as cinema, and it’s tough to coordinate schedules with others. Better to do it yourself!
3. Go to a bookstore
Listen, you might think bookstores are dead or dying, but surprisingly: they’re not! A New York Times report from 2019 publicly proclaimed independent bookstores on the rise! While as a society we may collectively read less than we once used to, many independent bookstores have since become hubs of community and places to congregate.
Perhaps part of that is because many also have in-store cafés and lounges, but they also regularly host author events or special programming. Bookstores are great for wandering alone; you just might stumble onto an event or activity, and they’re also just great places to try and meet new people. Plus you might find a good book or magazine!
4. Attend a Meetup
I’ve always been a big fan of meetups and networking events. They’re easy to attend, oftentimes free, and great places to show up solo. Meetup.com is my go-to source for finding new meetups, but many Facebook groups and business associations host regular events, too. It’s just a matter of looking for the right groups that match your hobbies or interests.
5. Be a tourist in your own city
Big surprise that this travel blogger here would suggest sightseeing as a great solo activity! ha! But seriously: sightseeing is an easy and fun activity to do if you’re alone. There are just some tourist sites and activities that are easiest done alone.
For example, being alone in NYC, you can do all sorts of things alone. There are the city parks and the museums, but also the historical sights, walks, and points of interest like the Brooklyn Bridge, the High Line, or Times Square. It just might be easier to enjoy some of the New York City tourist things when you’re alone; more manageable in the crowds!
When you’re a tourist in your own city, you can come away more knowledgeable about your home, and maybe even more inspired to take on new things to see and do, too.
6. Shop, shop, shop!
Shopping is one of the best things to do alone—and probably easier than shopping with a loved one or friend, too. When you shop alone, you have no one to pre-judge any of your purchases or outfit ideas.
Instead, you buy the fashion you want to buy without any preconceived criticism from a friend. You end up buying more of what you want to buy, and relying less on what others may think of you or your look. And that’s a good thing! It’s empowering to shop for yourself; retail therapy is also a lot of fun.
7. Visit a museum
Museums are great places to visit when you’re feeling lonely or if you’re on a solo trip. That’s because when you visit alone, you’re able to see the exhibits that interest you the most. You can wander at your own pace, see the art you want to see, and (hopefully) come away inspired and motivated.
As the number of free public places to congregate & meet people shrink, museums (like libraries) serve a unique spot in society today: they are our public spaces. And when they’re free to the public (like the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC is for New Yorkers), they can be useful meeting spot as well as places to simply…exist.
8. Dine out alone
Perhaps the hardest thing to do alone; dining out alone at a restaurant is usually the most challenging hurdle when you’re alone. But truthfully: it doesn’t have to be difficult. Most restaurants have bar seating where you can even strike up conversations with other restaurant-visitors, or of course the bartenders.
Restaurants are actually pretty comfortable to visit alone. You can bring a book, or read the news on your phone, or even put in your Airpods or headphones and watch YouTube videos. If you’re uncomfortable eating at a restaurant alone at first, but you want to try a new cuisine, go to a food court (especially a hipster food court). You’ll see there area often many people eating alone or dining solo.
Listen: the nature of our world today is we’re just all a lot more independent. We kind of have to be in this late stage of capitalism. There’s nothing wrong with taking the time to do the activities and things you want to do, and to do them yourself.
It’s not always easy if you’re lonely, but doing things alone doesn’t have to be as sad or scary as you think it might be. Treat yourself to the things you want to do and you’ll still have a lot of fun.