The Pleasure of Doing Things Alone

Man walking train tracks wilderness
photo by Mike Matin

We may not be able to make babies alone, but we can do plenty of other things that are worth doing on our own without feeling lonely about it.

Quite often, I find myself choosing to do things alone rather than inviting others to join in. It’s not just that asking people is a hard thing for an introvert like me, but it often brings up the “excusative” side of people. Doing things on my own means I can do them at my own pace.

“Where have you been today?” mother asks me sometimes.

I tell her.

“Did you go alone?”

I nod. Something of a worried looks comes over her, and that “alone” echoes over the silence.

We all have different levels of maximum loneliness we can tolerate, and mine happens to be quite high. It’s not that I would mind hanging out with the right sort of people more, but all to often it takes so much trouble to set up meetings and such that it’s just easier to do things on my own.

When I go out somewhere alone, I can focus on the place. I can walk at my own pace. I can stop and linger over some detail that other people wouldn’t have any patience for. I also find it easier to talk with strangers and learn things from them. I enjoy going alone to museums, cinemas, parks, bookshops, stores, and just about anywhere else. Okay, not restaurants and bars, but then I’m not crazy about those.

Not even the loneliest of us can help being social. We are all interconnected. We all depend on each other in some way. You just can’t be lonely too long if you live in a community. Even the simple greeting of a neighbor that knows you only from sight will break through that loneliness and warm you up inside.

That’s why sometimes it’s better to just do what you want to do without worrying whether others will join you or not. Today there is a big emphasis on groups, teams, and communities. Even a big loner like me can understand the benefits of these. Why else would I be here, blogging?

But some of us do function well alone. Selective loneliness – which happens when we choose to be lonely over alternatives – is not just one of the indulgences that us shy, introverted, quiet types can appreciate, but a simple pleasure we can give ourselves without second thoughts.

We can and should do things alone when we feel like it, and not feel lonely about it.

*

Don’t you prefer doing things alone sometimes? Would you call yourself a loner?

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38 thoughts on “The Pleasure of Doing Things Alone

  1. Mom’s always get that worried look if you you say you were “alone”. I do enjoy being alone at times, having coffee, reading, being online, walking in the park, shopping…as you say there is no one to rush you or to be concerned with, sometimes if I am not in the mood to converse it is just to much effort 🙂

  2. I totally identify with you in this post. When I was young and had a day off from my nursing school I wanted to spend the day strolling along in Copenhagen looking at things for my self. Now many years after it’s still like that. Only museums are better for me to see with my husband or a friend.

  3. I enjoyed reading your post. As a loner, I enjoy the solitude of a forest, hearing the sounds others might ignore. I love a quiet morning too, before people start to stir.

  4. Hi, I’m your new follower. Your post really gets me and how I love reading it. I’m also a loner and I can’t function around too many people. Solitary helps my growth so much. Anyway, would you mind if I re-blog your post?

  5. Great post. I see much of myself in your writing. Alas, society frowns on “loners” a little and “loner” can sometimes be used in a derogatory way, which is a shame. I am alone often but, as the song says, I’m “alone but not lonely”! Also, like “gaylerlee” above I too love quiet mornings before everyone else stirs!

  6. Doing things alone make you grow inside and be present with your thoughts, Sometimes you are with people but you are not there. Great post!

  7. I wouldn’t call myself a loner but of late I’ve found myself being and doing things alone about 90% of my waking hours. It’s been fun, it’s been lonely, it’s been eye-opening. I think deeper discovery of oneself happens best when you’re alone.

  8. I love to be alone most of the times. I completely feel free and happy when I spend time with myself. It is the true moment that I can really think about myself.
    Being with someone else makes me feel good but it doesn’t necessarily

  9. Like you I love doing things alone – or with a dog (so not alone). Love my own space, love my friends but sometimes just need space from everyone, away from The World. I so get where you’re coming from. Glad I found you 🙂

  10. I really enjoyed your post! You’re spot on about the pleasure and necessity, even, of being alone. Social interactions take a lot of energy and being alone gives us that time to re-energize, calm our minds, and fulfill our own needs that being with others can’t. Respect! You earned a new follower. Keep it up Vincent!

    My blog: PlayEatWork.com

  11. I am a fellow loner and introvert. The need to be alone daily is one of necessity. It’s a way to refuel and centre yourself. Though most days I find myself yearning for a companion more and more. Having a like minded soul to share and bask in simple pleasures like brunch or sojourns at a beer garden always make for better when there’s two.

  12. I have never been alone until recently. I am learning to be alone and to love myself and thats exactly what I am doing. I walk alone, I work out alone, go to the store alone. All things i used to “need” others to join me for. I am excited for my future because of my current alone time. Great Read!

  13. Great read and very relatable! I’m happy to say that I now enjoy doing things on my own like shopping, eating out, going to the gym, etc… It’s therapeutic!

  14. One of my favourite quotes of all time comes from Paul Tillich. Speaking of English he says: “Our language wisely has created two words to express the sentiment of finding yourself alone: the word ‘loneliness’, which expresses the pain of being alone, and the word ‘solitude’ which expresses the glory of being alone.” … Sounds to me like you have a good handle on solitude Vincent. 🙂

  15. Alone time is so important. I love walking and running on my own. I also enjoy contact with people but too much of either and I am not happy. Balance is good for me I think. I have just started a poetry blog here on WordPress in case you have time to have a look? Have a nice afternoon, Sam 🙂

  16. I prefer to do things alone most of the time. I completely agree with you about doing things alone without bothering whether anyone would join us or not. I do call myself a loner, and I like it 🙂

  17. I have learned to enjoy solitude for soul searching is bliss. There are two worlds; the inner and the outer, spending time getting to know yourself and developing a higher love for who you are is important for health and moving to a higher state of consciousness.

  18. Totally spot on! I have people who think this is a big problem or a bad habit but I am like I really do enjoy spending time alone. Totally following you! This is something very important to have in common. hahaha

  19. This post is so interesting, it’s inspired me to reflect further on the topic for my own writings! On your questions of doing things alone, I always like the idea of it but the execution can be hit or miss. Oddly enough I enjoy travelling outside of the country alone thoroughly–it was quite empowering–but sometimes there’s no substitute for some good company. It can take a lifetime to find that perfect company, though.

  20. I love being alone. I can enjoy my full freedom. Like you said we can do things on our own at our own pace. I love going to cinema, museum, art gallery, and park; but most of my friends don’t prefer so. So I do them all alone. My weekends are best when I do thing alone. I love to free myself in art world.

  21. I’m so glad you have discovered the okay-side of being alone. So many young people take it as a negative, seemingly convinced they are alone because no one wants to be with them. The truth is that some are alone because they like being alone. No problem with that. I hope your mother arrives at peace about that issue.

  22. I am so glad you publsihed this post. I deeply connect to this topic. I enjoy being around people, and feeling like I am part of a community. I enjoy getting to know others, and having people that I can share thoughts, feelings, and experiences with. However, I also enjoy my time alone, and I enjoy it just as much, if not more, than spending time with other people.

    There are certain things that I just prefer doing a lone, like going to a museum, or even shopping. As you mentioned in your post, by doing these things alone, I am able to go at my own pace. I can linger where I want, and I can skip things that do not interest me. I might even enjoy going to the movies a lone more than I enjoy going with other people. At this point, people know that I tend to become very emotionally invested with films, and that I oftetimes cry, regardless if the content is happy or sad. They have come to expect this reaction from me, and will look at me to see if I am, in fact, crying. Like leave me a lone! I cry, ok?! It doesn’t mean I do it every time! Or soemtimes there’s a joke in the movie that everyone seems to be laughing at, but it of course goes right over my head, but I laugh anyway, becuase I feel like I have to.

    By doing things alone, I escape the pressure of feeling like I have to adhere to what everyone else is doing. Not sure if that is a good or bad thing. I probably care way to much about what everyone else thinks, but still…

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