Lifestyle: How to Embrace Independence + Solitude

Introduction

Warm greetings to all of my casual readers and loyal subscribers, it’s hard to believe that the last few weeks of summer are already coming to a close! I hope that this season has been as kind and restorative to your spirit as it has been to mine. I’ll be finishing off the rest of my break by fulfilling my childhood dream of attending a Jonas Brothers concert. Then, I’ll be stepping in for my parents by moving my younger brother into college at West Virginia University. Crazy how those two experiences are at completely opposite ends of the spectrum. I’ll also be desperately trying to finish as many books, shows, and podcasts as possible before school starts at the end of August. This month’s post is actually inspired by the writings of the clinical psychologist Meg Jay, PhD who wrote The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of them Now. The book outlines how a significant portion (approx. 40%) of our happiness is determined by our intentional behavior. Intentionality is a life skill that I have been refining for quite some time. Today, I try to be as deliberate with my decisions and as purposeful with my energy as possible. In recent years, I’ve found that my behavior becomes more intentional when I increase the amount of time that I spend alone. For example, I used to spend every waking moment surrounded by people. My life was flooded by social interaction which completely interfered with my stream of consciousness; my psyche was clouded to the point that I couldn’t even hear my own thoughts. Socializing is an undoubtedly important part of life, however, we also need to remind ourselves to turn our attention inwards so that we can reconnect with ourselves. This post aims to serve as a guide for people who are afraid of the prolonged period of silence that typically comes with a solitary life. To those of you, I will say; you don’t have to feel lonely when you are alone. Time spent unaccompanied is good for the soul. What’s more is that changing your mindset in this way can change your life.

Make Self-Care a Habit

Before we get into the complexities of solitude, we need to start with the basics of self-care. How often do you stop to ask yourself; Is this how I really want to spend my day? It may be time to shift your focus if you feel like you’re frequently neglecting the bullet points of your own personal agenda. We also have to remember that self-care is specific to every individual because everyone has a different definition of this term. So, it’s important to be understanding of other people’s needs especially when they don’t match your own. For instance, some people may only require a couple of hours of downtime after socializing. Whereas, other people may need a few days to recharge. Comparatively, some people feel most relaxed when they are alone in the comfort of their own home. While, others thrive when they spend the entire day exploring a new place by themselves on their own terms. The point that I’m trying to make is; we should never feel as though we can’t say ‘no’ to someone else’s plans and we should also never be offended when someone passes on an invitation to our own. DO WHAT YOU LOVE. The rest will quickly fall into place.

Exercising
  • I never thought that going to the gym by myself was a big deal until I met someone who told me that they actually refuse to workout unless they can do it with a partner. Working out is a great way to clear your mental space and I have found that it is done best while you are alone. If you are looking to increase your independence in this way you can (A) create workouts to do at home (B) attend group exercise classes (C) join a gym that offers personal training. Remember that you can always take small steps to build up your confidence so that one day you’ll be prime and ready to hit the gym solo.
Shopping
  • This can be done in multiple ways. Depending on your mood, you can either (A) listen to your favorite tunes while checking out a new grocery store in your area (B) spend the entire day trying on clothes at a crowded mall (C) put the television on in the background and spend the entire evening online shopping from the comfort of your home. Bonus: you can kick back and relax by making yourself a cocktail because you won’t have to drive anywhere…isn’t online shopping the best?
Eating
  • Over the past two years, I have dedicated a significant portion of my time to learning about the ins and outs of the food industry. My goal was to cook healthy meals as much as possible and I think I have succeeded – I got home and made a sauteed kale salad after going out with my girlfriends for happy hour on Friday. YEAH. The first thing that I cut out was gluten and it made THE WORLD of a difference for my digestive system. Then, I cut out a large amount of dairy products and noticed that my skin improved drastically. Most recently, I adopted a plant based diet to support the environment and my personal health. Now, I have been a vegetarian for five months and I honestly cannot imagine being any other way. I absolutely love the positive effects that these changes have had on my body and I encourage everyone to find what works best for them! The goal should always be to FEEL GOOD after every meal! Keep a food log over the next few months to track how you are feeling after eating certain foods, then make a list of three-five new recipes that you would like to try and GO FOR IT! Pretty soon you’ll be causally showing off your cooking skills to your close circle of family and friends.
Reading 
  • Spend the afternoon sitting on the floor of a bookstore while reading the back of any book that grabs your interest. Purchase the one that you like the best. Bonus: you can take as long as you want to because you won’t have to leave when the other person is ready to go. Don’t you hate being rushed? I know I do!
Watching
  • Netflix marathon after a long week on a Friday night? HELLO! Grab some of your favorite snacks and start scrolling through your watch list. Bonus: you don’t have to share your treats with anyone. That’s pretty sweet.

True love ain’t something you can buy yourself. True love finally happens when you by yourself. So if you by yourself, then go and buy yourself another round from the bottle on the higher shelf. ‘Cause I’m my own soulmate, I know how to love me. I know that I’m always gonna hold me down.”

Soulmate | Lizzo

Prioritize Your Interests

Look guys, life is short, so spend as much time as possible doing what you love and don’t feel like you have to wait for other people to join you. The best feeling ever is looking back and thinking, “Wow, I can’t believe I experienced that.” So take the time to imagine what that feeling looks like and find a way to feel it as often as possible. I realized a long time ago that you can’t wait for other people to be on the same page as you in terms of your priorities and interests. So when I wanted to see that thing or be in that place, I went! Not only that, but I was fully conscious while the experience was happening. How do I know this? If my memory isn’t cloudy and there aren’t pieces missing from an experience then I know that I was fully present in those moments. So wherever you decide to go, be ALL there. No distractions.

Restaurants 
  • Enjoy a meal at a restaurant that you have always wanted to try and order anything you want because you wont have to worry about feeling self-conscious in front of others. Bonus: you also won’t have to worry about making conversation with the person sitting across from you. Of course, eavesdropping on other people’s conversations can be really fun too…
Movie Theaters 
  • Going to the movie theater by yourself is actually an incredibly enjoyable experience. You save so much time because you don’t have to coordinate with other people on times and locations. Of course, I wouldn’t recommend going to see a late night cinema in a sketchy neighborhood…I’m talking about spending a rainy Sunday afternoon at a theater that you are already familiar with. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing all of the childhood remakes that are coming out this year.
Museums 
  • I love to use the metro-rail system to take trips to downtown Washington D.C…a.b.s.o.l.u.t.e.l.y l.o.v.e.
Art Galleries 
  • Whether you’re yearning for a trip to a large nationally recognized museum or to a small intimate gallery, it is always incredibly inspiring to look at different types of artwork. I am always amazed by the amount of creativity that a single room can hold. I usually try to pop into local art galleries whenever I have some spare time. It’s a great way to learn about the best tourist spots in the area and to support local artists. Overtime, I have actually been able to curate my own little collection of artwork by purchasing different pieces from artists across the country. Each piece has proven to be a great conversation starter and I especially love how no one else will ever have another one like it! I mean seriously, who wants to buy cheap artwork from places like Target or Marshall’s? No thanks.
Headlined Events 
  • I really stepped outside of my comfort zone when I attended events at DC Comedy Improv & Capital One Arena by myself this past summer. It’s amazing how much more aware you become of your surroundings when you are forced to rely on yourself. I made new friends along the way and that was definitely the most rewarding part of the entire experience. Looking back, I probably would have never met those amazing people if I had been with a familiar group of friends. Getting outside of our bubble reminds us that there is an entire world of people out there that we have yet to interact with, you never know who you’ll meet along the way.

“Because I realized I got Me, Myself, and I, that’s all I got in the end, that’s what I found out. And it ain’t no need to cry, I took a vow that from now on I’m gon’ my own best friend.”

Me, Myself, & I | Beyonce

Find Peace In New Places

Personally, I begin to go a little stir-crazy if I stay in one place for too long. It may have something to do with the fact that I’ve moved seven times within the last four years…I’ve become slightly addicted to fresh starts. However, you don’t have to uproot yourself entirely to feel a sense of renewal. Sometimes all it takes is a weekend getaway to restart your engine. If you’re in the mood to change things up, pick two places that you have always wanted to visit and flip a coin to decide between the two! The decision process becomes a tad more exciting when you have to rely on the universe.

Neighborhood 
  • Get in your car and put on an amazing playlist to listen to while you take a drive through a neighborhood that you have never been to before but have always wanted to explore. Take it slow. Look at the houses that catch your eye. Imagine yourself living there and realize the goals that you have for yourself. Personally, I have found that this is one of the best ways to escape reality while still embracing the moment that your are currently in. These are the types of experiences that remind us of what we are working towards in life.
City
  • One of my favorite things about urban living is there is a plethora of different boroughs to explore within one close-knit area. I definitely haven’t been able to explore all of the communities that I would like but I am gradually working towards getting to know the city to its entirety. Wherever you live, reserve some time to check out a new part of the area. I can promise you that this new experience will leave you feeling refreshed. Sometimes our day-to-day routines can feel stale, but the weekend is the perfect time to change things up!
State 
  • Some of my favorite places that I have visited within the state of Maryland are Downtown Ellicott City, Downtown Annapolis, Downtown Frederick, Sparks, Gaithersburg, Germantown, and the Eastern Shore. There is still so much more that I want to see…a blog post on my favorite spots is soon to come!
Country 
  • I recently traveled to Boston, Massachusetts while on the way to visit a friend who lived on Martha’s Vineyard Island for the summer. It was nerve wracking because I didn’t know where I was going and I had to figure out a lot of things along the way. I got lost a few times while trying to get back to the airport and I had to reach out to strangers for help. By the end of the day, I ended up taking seven different modes of transpiration prior to reaching my final destination. My bus was cancelled and my out-bound flight was delayed by the weather on the way back so that was frustrating, but the best moments from that trip all happened in between traveling. It was definitely an unforgettable experience.
World 
  • So far, two of the most courageous things that I did this past year were traveling to London, United Kingdom and Amsterdam, Netherlands by myself. I would do it ten times over again if I could. I’ve been counting down the days till my next European adventure ever since I got back to the United States. Yeah, that’s how much fun it was.

“Because the greatest love of all is happening to me, I found the greatest love of all inside of me. The greatest love of all is easy to achieve. Learning to love yourself, it is the greatest love of all.”

The Greatest Love of All | Whitney Houston

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