For most of my life, I’ve struggled to strike a healthy balance between solitude and society. As an only child, I was no stranger to alone time, which I spent reading lots of books, writing stories, and going on nature walks. As I grew older, however, I became increasingly aware of the fact that I spent more time doing things alone than the average person my age. The solo activities I previously enjoyed and even looked forward to were made less enjoyable by these new seeds of self-doubt. My insecurities peaked in high school, where a combination of existing FOMO, stress, and social media led to heightened anxiety. My alone time became a breeding ground for dark thoughts and, ultimately, gut-wrenching loneliness. I constantly pushed myself to make and stay friends with anyone and everyone — even people who I didn’t like or who treated me poorly — because I genuinely believed that surrounding myself with people would compensate for the emptiness I felt in their absence.
I felt this way for a long time. In fact, it wasn’t until this year that I truly began embracing my alone time again. Once I realized that my loneliness thrived on a lack of self-trust, I made a conscious effort to stop using personal relationships as an escape from myself. I severed ties with toxic individuals, started meditating and rediscovered the joy of cooking. Slowly but surely, my concept of alone time transformed from a vessel for loneliness into an opportunity for personal growth.
Last weekend, I did something I would not have done a year ago: I spent a weekend alone in New York. For many people, this may not seem like a big deal... and that’s okay. But for me, this trip was a celebration of everything I have learned and strived for in the last year. To navigate an unfamiliar city alone requires a certain degree of self-trust; to have fun while doing so requires self-love. During my forty-eight hours in New York, I visited parks in Queens, went shopping in Times Square, treated myself to vegan noms at Smorgasburg and took myself on a date to a fancy restaurant... okay, several restaurants. And in those forty-eight hours by myself, I experienced a plethora of emotions — excitement, nervousness, relaxation; however, loneliness was not among them. That to me is what it truly means to embrace alone time.
To see what I did/ate on my trip, you can click on the "NYC & eats" highlight on my Instagram profile.