Let's get this straight first. Another title for this piece could be "Why You Should Do Things Alone". But I think I want to put the focus more on overcoming the hesitation to do things solo, rather than giving a laundry list of reasons on how alone-time can benefit you. At the risk of making a fallacy, I would like to assume you already know why spending more time alone is good for you and yet, fear or shy away from it. Particularly, in public or outside.
There is one big reason why on any given weekend, most of us find ourselves on the couch, in the comfort of our private space, when we do not have any plans with our friends and family. At the surface, it seems the idea of solo activities not being fun is the problem. However, a professor from Robert H. Smith School of Business, who has spent years studying why people are so reluctant to have fun on their own, said "The reason is we think we won’t have fun because we’re worried about what other people will think. We end up staying at home instead of going out to do stuff because we’re afraid others will think they’re a loser.” And she couldn't be more right here. I have struggled for years myself with it and even till date, when I go out and do things alone, I worry about running into someone I know and having to justify what am I doing there. We have been conditioned to think if we are not with company, we are uncool, a loner. And subconsciously, we associate a sense of shame each time we step out alone.
The good new is YOU ARE NOT A LOSER IF YOU DO THINGS ALONE!
You are just overthinking and overestimating other's interest in your affairs. Nothing strange about it. In fact, there is a phenomenon in psychology to explain it. It is called the Spotlight Effect, in which people tend to believe they are being noticed more than they really are and as a result, adjust their actions and opinions, based on how they want to be perceived by others. All of us make egocentric biases in choosing and doing things in a way, which would be more socially "acceptable".
Now, if you are working towards picking up solo activities more often, it is essential to get "people" out of the picture.
You have got to stop worrying about what people would think and stop looking for people's company every time you step out of the house. These are absolutely normal but can you imagine how much are you missing out just by worrying what others think of you. Yes, the more the merrier but not always. Seeking a company always is only making you compromise on the experiences you could have in life. Do not miss out on good times just because your friends do not have the same taste, hobbies or are occupied. Go out there and watch that play, which no one likes but is your favourite. Enjoy the freedom to decide your own itinerary and take that solo trip.
If I could leave you with one personal tip, it would be to balance it out.
Let's say, you have got four weekends in a month. Spend two in catching up with friends and socializing. And the other two weekends, some serious alone-time with just you and yourself. Based on your personality type, pick anything under the sun. Like for me, I often go shopping alone at the mall because I make better purchases, as simple as that. Or nothing beats spending the day with a book in my bed and day-dreaming of how I am going to rule the world one day!
Start small and slow. In the beginning, it can make you uncomfortable but has anyone ever gained anything by staying in the comfort zone? Once you make it a habit to indulge in some solo-time regularly, you would definitely reconnect with yourself and understand how fun and enriching it can be. You are not alone in this quest to be alone sometimes. Or all the time. As long as it is your choice and makes you happy, take no guilt or shame in going out and doing things alone.
IN THIS MADDENING RACE OF LIFE, A DOSE OF SOLITUDE CAN SAVE THE DAY.