I’m not sure if I was born this way or if I just became this way after the wear and tear of time, but I really like being alone. I like going to parks by myself and walking for hours alone with my thoughts. I hate going to museums with crowds of even one and won’t be apt to spend money on a movie if I know I have to sit next to someone and potentially converse about it.
I’d spent years going to movies, cafés, book stores, libraries, groceries stores — always tagging along someone else, never realizing how different these daily activities and previously mundane tasks could be when approached alone.
In a city where personal space and open sidewalks are a luxury, it can be hard to find the right spots to gain a moment of solitude in New York City. However, New York is also the city that introduces you to the idea that you can feel alone in the most crowded of spaces. It’s a city that teaches you that solitude isn’t about what’s not around you, but how comfortable you are by your lonesome.
Once you’ve learned to go places alone, everything takes on a new meaning. The grocery store becomes less of a chore and more a time of reflection and personal whim. You can spend as long as you want staring at the color of the peaches or rush through and not have to wait for anyone to get sliced ham. It becomes about your own time and your own schedule. You don’t have to think or talk about anything you don’t feel like talking about or walk anywhere your feet didn’t have the utmost desire to go.
Many people confuse solitude with loneliness. However, they are more different than they are alike. Solitude is the ability to be alone, being content with yourself and your own thoughts. Loneliness is just the opposite. Loneliness is feeling empty and alone without the comfort of others.
It’s being reliant on others to fill a void. Loneliness is like a disease people are scared to catch, so they keep taking medicine to stave it off. They keep taking in people and conversations they don’t like or need because they think it’s better than no conversation at all.
The world is always going to be filled with people and is always going to make you feel bits of loneliness. It’s your job to find moments of solitude among the bustle of life and learn to use things that really are meant to be enjoyed in the right way: alone.
A Park Bench
The park may seem like a place for family adventure and teen hangouts, but it is most definitely for loners. Just take a look at the benches, all filled with single bodies — reading, writing, watching and basking in their solitude.
It’s a rare thing to find peace amongst chaos, and in a park you become as obscure as the graffiti and grass around it. Parks are designed for pleasure. They are a respite from the concrete masses and stress of the cement. They are designed for the individuals, the thinkers, the poets, the wanderers.
Your Favorite Café
A great cup of coffee is always better alone. Conversation ruins everything and crowds are the antitheses of window seats.
There’s a reason café tables are made small and once you learn how to use a café the right way, the better you will fit into those tiny chairs. Cafés are like bars, meant for the tired to take a break — only in cafés, it’s to bask in some stimulants. It’s a place of reflection, personal luxury and sometimes work.
It’s a sacred place that should be treated as a safe haven away from the bustling conversation and small talk of everyday life. Unlike restaurants (which are also fine alone) cafés are not expected to be attended in pairs. They are a place for single servings and quiet eating.
You have your espresso and I’ll have my cappuccino and no one will say a word about it.
A Good Movie
No matter what anyone says, a movie is always better alone. I know this because nine times out of 10, the person you are watching it with will have a different opinion, a sour note or enjoy it much more than you. Whether your companion loved it or hated it, now your movie-watching experience is based entirely on whose opinion was right. And when it’s a movie you really want to see, you don’t want anyone’s opinion ruining it.
Going to a movie alone takes all that pressure away. It’s just you and the screen. You watch the movie for what it is, take away from it what you want and leave feeling richer. Movies are, many times, as good a friend as many of us will ever get, so it should be all the companionship you need. And if you devote your full attention to it, it’s better than any friend with good stories.
For two hours, you can forget the world, eat all the popcorn you want and use both arm rests.
Burritos are not meant to be eaten in front of people, at least if they are going to reach their full potential. Chowing down a burrito alone, when it’s just you and your dripping pocket of delight, is one of the more intimate acts one can find in this starved world. It’s just you and your corn or flour-based sack — no drips, cares or spills to worry about.
It’s all about the endless arrays of napkins and messy table tops. You have sour cream all over your face and you’ve spilled a few beans on the floor. It’s a dirty and vile act to the observer, but a beautiful and fulfilling one to you and that delicious burrito.
Having another person there is as good as adding a third wheel to a date that was supposed to be intimate and borderline sexual.
Observing art is as individual of an act as reading and trying to appreciate a piece of artwork with someone is like trying to share a book. You just can’t look at art with other people. When looking at art, there should be no one rushing you, keeping you or invading your time of reflection.
If you go to an art show with someone, you will undoubtedly end up splitting up, one of you hanging on to a painting longer than the other, and finding each other hours later. So what’s the difference between that and just going alone?
Art is as personal of an experience viewing it as it is making it. Viewing art in this way will allow you to see it and experience it as the artist had intended.
Your Drivers Seat
Sometimes you don’t need therapy, you just need a good drive.
You need to sink into the leathery seat, gas up and coast into nowhere with just good music, open windows and all your thoughts in the world. There is nothing more therapeutic than feeling the road beneath your engine, singing along to music and just letting all your pain melt with the pavement below. No one to talk to, no one to listen to, no one to explain where you are going.
A good bed is the making of a good soul.
A bed is an intimate part of the human fabric and sharing a bed is letting your most personal space disappear. Your bed is your safe haven, your kingdom come, your prize at the end of the day. There is nothing better than having a huge bed to yourself and the sooner you learn to relish in satin sheets that aren’t being pulled by bodies that make you sweat under the covers, the happier and better rested you will be.
It’s in our beds that we have our most personal and intimate moments. It’s where we dream and cry. It’s where we watch our favorite movies and read our favorite books. It’s where we go when nothing is going right and where no one can touch us.
If you haven’t started to get it by now, you probably never will. But for those of you who started feeling a sense of peace in the idea of going places alone, you may very well be on your way to achieving solitude. This is a feat that will open many doors and make the world seem like it was built just for you — where everything is an option, an opportunity and just damn better alone.