A recent study mentioned in Slate (via Science of Us) suggests that many people, especially women, are afraid to take part in certain leisure activities alone, not just because of safety concerns but because of a psychological hang-up that others will pity them. This fear that others will think “that they could not find friends to accompany them” even extends to an activity which I think requires some alone time: museum-going.
However, when authors Rebecca Ratner and Rebecca Hamilton encouraged college students—over protests—to visit an art museum alone, they found that the solo museum-goers had just as much fun as the people who brought friends.
Could this be generational, a product of the Alone Together syndrome? While I am in favor of building communities and strengthening bonds with family and friends over shared meals, discussions, and travel, I am also a proponent of solo outings, especially to museums and parks, where one can think, observe, and listen.
Having freelanced for many years, I have grown accustomed to the solitary life. Or maybe I have grown accustomed to freelancing because I’ve always enjoyed alone time? I have been an INFP (Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceptive) for as long as I can remember, so I am definitely hard-wired to prefer doing some things solo.
Another factor may also be at play–whether those who enjoy being alone are always alone or not. I am married and have two children. So having the option of not being alone definitely changes my perspective when it comes to venturing out solo. I am lucky to be able to see my alone time as a pause, as something to be enjoyed.
I rarely feel lonely when I’m out in the world alone. I feel free. I feel like I can be anyone I want to be. I can choose my itinerary. I can choose how long I want to stay or how soon I want to go. I can grab a snack when I want or not eat at all.
Do I ever feel like others are judging me? Yes! I feel like they are thinking, “Wow, she looks like she is having a nice time.” And 9.5 out of 10 times, I am.