Finding comfort in solitude: a guide to spending time alone
Inspirations to do something by yourself, for yourself.

When I was four years old, not a minute went by when my tiny hands weren’t wrapped around the bare skin of my mother’s arms, grasping for one more second of her parental hold before ultimately being left on my own to survive preschool. Whether it was my mother or a cherished childhood toy that I couldn’t go anywhere without (mine was a baby doll I called Annabelle), I quickly grew accustomed to the idea of attachment. 

But this article isn’t about my four-year-old self’s inability to be left alone. It’s about my 17-year-old self and how I learned to find comfort in solitude. And my 19-year-old self, who had the confidence to book a solo trip to Europe. But most importantly, it’s about providing a guide to how you can spend time alone too, and enjoy it in the process. 

I present to you: my top five things to do alone.

  1. The Drive 

I got my driver’s license on my 17th birthday, and it became a symbol of freedom. I no longer relied on my parents to drive me somewhere I wanted to go. But it also became a pivotal moment in my life where I started to do the things I wanted to do, regardless if I had anyone to do them with. I went on hikes, visited coffee shops, or roamed aisles in a bookstore. And I did all these things alone. One of my favourite things to do was drive. Up toward the mountains, I could view the entire city, with my go-to playlist playing on blast from the car speakers. Just me, the music, and the road. 

Driving alone can be very therapeutic, and it’s a great option for anyone who might be intimidated to do things by themselves in public. Even if you don’t have a car, I present an alternate idea: The Train Ride. Especially if you enjoy people-watching. Trains are perfect for that.

  1. The Art Gallery

There’s something special about walking around an art gallery or museum. While it can be great fun to do this with another person as well–discussing the different meanings of paintings and pointing out what each artwork means to you–there’s also great fun in doing all this alone. There’s no timeline. You can spend as much or as little time as you want with each piece. 

I suggest listening to music through earbuds while you walk around each gallery room. Romanticize it. Take photos of your favourite art pieces. Reflect on what inspires you and what doesn’t. Maybe you can even go home afterward and create your own piece of art. 

  1. The Restaurant

I know what you’re thinking. This is probably one of the scariest things to do alone. But trust me, it’s not that bad. The first time I participated in the solo dining experience was at Cactus Club during my first year of university, and I came prepared. I knew that I wanted to order my favourite dish: the spicy chicken over white rice (sadly discontinued), and I’d also packed a tote bag with my journal and lit-fic novel so that I could have something to do while I sat there alone. 

Let me tell you, it feels so powerful to walk into a restaurant (bonus points if it’s a proper dining restaurant) and ask for a table for one. The key is to own it. Walk in there and act like you’re this famous food reviewer (this act will especially sell the waitstaff if you carry around a fancy notebook and pen). Also, bring something to do like I did. Jot down things you observe, sounds you hear, and smells that make your stomach grumble even more than it already is. One time, I even witnessed a full breakup (that was pure entertainment). 

The best part about dining alone, in my opinion, is that you tend to get better service. The server is proficient, the food is quick, and you usually walk out feeling really good about yourself (mainly because of your full stomach but also because of the good vibes). 

  1. The Movie Theater

I truly don’t know why I didn’t do this one sooner. I feel like movie theaters were designed for you to go by yourself. The only part where it’s noticeable that you’re alone is in line, waiting for popcorn and a soft drink. But if you can get past that hurdle, the theater is a great option for a solo date. 

A few Fridays ago, I went to the movies by myself for the first time to see The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. And the best part? I didn’t feel embarrassed when I caught myself blushing at a young Coriolanus Snow (the same man who goes on to murder many children in the original trilogy). The people sitting next to me didn’t know me. They couldn’t judge me for romanticizing a villain character just because they had cast an attractive British man to play the part. Part of me hoped I’d turn my head to see them blushing, too. Even sitting in a movie theater alone, I found ways to connect with a bunch of strangers. 

  1. The Solo Trip

Probably the most significant thing I’ve done alone is travel. In April, I backpacked across Europe by myself for a month. Safe to say, it was the best experience of my life. So, I decided to do it again. A few days ago, I impulsively booked a week-long solo trip to Ireland in February. A week-long trip full of self-discovery, stepping outside of my comfort zone, and cheap beer at Irish pubs. I also hope to learn the jig!

So, whether it’s a solo drive down your hometown dirt roads or a backpacking trip across the globe, I encourage you to go out and do something by yourself. Anything. Give yourself the opportunity to learn more about yourself, what you like, and the type of person you want to be. 
If your Spotify Wrapped is anything like mine, your top song might even become “On My Own” by Ross Lynch (you know, the one from Teen Beach Movie). He said it best, and I can assure you that you’re brave enough to take the road out on your own.

Staff Writer (Volume 50) — Keira is in her third year at UTM, working toward a double major in Communications, Culture, Information, and Technology (CCIT) and Professional Writing and Communications (PWC). She is a writer, photographer, filmmaker, music lover, nature enthusiast, and above all, a health and wellness advocate who cares deeply about the world around her. When she’s not working or studying, you’ll find her reading her favourite lit-fic novels in the park or booking spontaneous trips around the world.


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