Mental Health Awareness Month: how doing things alone doesn’t mean you’re lonely

“You’re doing what?!” is probably the phrase I heard most during April 2014. I had just booked a trip to London I was very excited for and I couldn’t stop telling others about it. I was 21 years old at that time, I knew my way around London, why was everyone reacting like this? About thirty seconds into any conversation about the trip I realised why: I was going alone and people thought that was weird.

When you’re in your teens and early twenties, there’s this incredible pressure to do the most amazing things. Everyone keeps telling you the best time of your life is now, and somehow society collectively decided that you can only have the time of your life when you’re with other people. And don’t get me wrong, I like being around other people, but I also really like being alone.

In April 2014, I decided it was time for me to join that small group of people who seemed to have mastered the art of not caring about what others think. I booked the trip, proudly told others about it and in June, I packed my suitcase and got on the Eurostar. And it was one of the best decisions I ever made.

Of course, traveling alone has some downsides. Single hotel rooms are a lot more expensive and sitting in a restaurant by yourself is a bit weird for the first ten minutes, but that’s pretty much it. The pros massively outweigh the cons. You get to decide what you’re gonna do, where you’re gonna go and how you’re gonna get there (and most importantly, where you’re gonna get dinner) all the time.

Needless to say that after that trip, I got the hang of doing things alone. I went to the cinema on my own, took myself out for lunch when I was having a bad day, and attended concerts all by myself. Soon I realised one thing: nobody cares. Even if people notice you are alone – and I’m not sure they do – one of two things will happen. They either think “Woah is that girl here alone? That’s lame!” or “Woah is that girl here alone? That’s cool, you go girl!” and after those three seconds, they will go on with their life. No one is gonna come up to you and laugh in your face. Trust me.

All this doesn’t mean I don’t have any friends or that I’m incapable of social interaction. I love my friends and I like being around them, but I also find being with other people a lot more tiring than being alone. When I have spent a day at the office in the company of co-workers, I don’t want to hang out with my friends the same night. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

I’m not a big fan of cheesy quotes, but I once read one that said “Don’t forget to fall in love with yourself first” and I don’t think there’s a better way to do that than by being comfortable in your own company. That doesn’t mean I spend my time alone contemplating life and being all philosophic, but it does mean that being alone has taught me what I find important in life and what makes me happy. I feel a lot more at peace now than I did three years ago and I learned some valuable life lessons on the way (number 1: make sure your suitcase isn’t too heavy because there’s no one else to help you carry it).

How do you feel about doing things alone? Did we make you want to try it? Come talk to us over at @CelebMixCares, we’re open to all of your questions.

Written by CelebMix