During part of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of my single friends and I spent time alone in our houses for days. We worked from home and rarely saw coworkers or friends. Together but apart, we began to appreciate time alone without being lonely, most of the time. I chatted with Karen Hendrickson, Stacey Greeley and Rachel Thomas for insights into how they have developed healthy and fulfilling relationships with themselves.
Build a good relationship with yourself
“My parents were fascinated by people, adventure, servanthood and learning,” says Hendrickson. “These have been adopted by me, so it is hard to feel lonely because of those things. Like any human, I experience loneliness at times. But I crank up the tunes, take a nap or take a walk, and it passes.”
Greely reflects, “One of the best things you can do is learn how to enjoy your own company. If you need help with that, learn by going to therapy, taking an online interest inventory or read or watch movies. Give yourself the gift of time and effort to discover and value how unique, worthwhile and interesting you are!”
“I am constantly finding new projects or hobbies. Much of that is from always wanting to learn more about what I like and don’t like,” shares Thomas. “Trying new hobbies or projects has broadened my life immensely. Remaining curious keeps me engaged with myself and the world around me.”
How can being alone be joyful, fulfilling or rewarding?
“The key is self-love, along with loving others and being content in whatever situation life has brought,” explains Hendrickson. “I simply enjoy spending time with myself.”
“I like projects, and I have lots of hobbies,” Thomas says. “Being alone really allows me to dive deeper into these things and devote more time to my hobbies. I find joy in making things, so working on crafting projects or cooking is rewarding to me.”
“You always win the choice of where to go out to eat and what movie to watch,” notes Greely. “Take every chance you can to revel in the gifts of your life.”
What are the best parts of going places alone?
“Each summer for the past five years, I have traveled in the U.S. or internationally. Typically, I do this solo,” explains Hendrickson. “During the travels, it’s like I turn into a little kid again. I have a smile on my face 24/7 and a hunger to experience the next wonder of the region I am in.”
“I started backpacking solo six years ago,” remembers Thomas. “I have backpacked around 1,000 miles in the last six years, most of it solo. It has changed my life. Every decision and feeling is mine and only mine. That can be intense and stressful. But it is also incredibly empowering and enlightening.”
How can someone start to feel comfortable being alone?
Hendrickson suggests, “Do something solo for 10 to 15 minutes a day for one week and increase the time each week. Take a Community Ed. class, go to a lecture, read a book or take a walk. Just do something and know you are here for a purpose and are loved.”
“Baby steps,” recommends Thomas. “Start by going places you’re comfortable with and slowly expand out to try going to new places that are unfamiliar.”
“Volunteer,” says Greely. “Look for ways to make some other lonely, needy or hurting person’s life better.”
So if you have been waiting to venture solo, whether it’s trying a new hobby, going out to eat or traveling alone, give it a try. You might find it’s a truly rewarding experience. ::