I am a hardcore extrovert, there’s no doubt about that. I somehow have always managed to squeeze in a pretty solid social life in college and grad school, and now in this post-grad life.
However nowadays, especially as I’m getting older, I’m starting to realize the value of alone time. This might be the only time in my life that I’m only responsible for myself. I don’t know when I’ll get in a relationship that’s serious enough that I’ll start thinking about starting a family with that person. So, I’m trying to reap the benefits of being a young, single gal in the Big Apple while I still can.
As much of a social butterfly as I am, I have to admit that sometimes it just becomes exhausting to be “on” all the time. The busier you are in your day-to-day life, the more you can benefit from some alone time.
According to psychologists, the ability to tolerate alone time has been linked to increased happiness, better life satisfaction, and improved stress management. For me, personally, being with myself more frequently in the past year has helped me to become more comfortable in my own skin.
Psychology Today says that spending more time alone helps you show up better for people in your life. Always putting others first can turn you into a trashcan-dwelling grouch. But, making time for yourself can be reenergizing, and better help you to be more empathetic and patient with others.
Luckily for us, we’re in a city that’s filled with activities that are completely normal to do alone. I can’t think of a place that has more things to do than New York City.
There are a bunch of things that are better when done alone. Trust me, I’ve seen a bunch of NYC solo travel guides that are obviously written by someone who hasn’t done the things they’ve listed, alone by themselves.
But, below is the list of things I, or a trusted friend, can attest are good solo activities:
1. Spend a Day at the Midtown NYPL
Located right in the middle of the city is the midtown branch of the New York Public Library, the Schwarzman Building. Not only is this library beautiful (totally Instagram-worthy), but it also is the home of thousands of books.
You can literally spend hours browsing through their book collection, as well as exploring the rotating exhibits in the Library Museum. You can also escape the nosiness of the city by doing some work in one of their reading room. The Rose Room is my favorite part of the library.
2. Walk Along the High Line
The High Line is definitely one of the few parks that I really enjoy experiencing alone. Since the walkway paths are pretty narrow, I always find it awkward to go with friends or a date, since you can’t really look at each other face-to-face when talking.
But, when you walk it by yourself, it can be really cathartic and it’s the perfect time to have sweet, life-affirming thoughts.
Bonus: the Chelsea Market is beneath it, so you can indulge yourself in some really delicious food before, during, and/or after your walk!
3. Visit a Hotel Bar
Being by yourself doesn’t mean that you have to be in solitude all day. Bring a book or your work to a nearby hotel bar. Even if I might not be socializing, I just love being surrounded by people. Order a drink and just spend a relaxing afternoon there.
Plus, you never know what kind of people you’d meet—maybe a first-time visitor of the city and you could share your recommendations. Or a seasoned New Yorker who can share a story about how the city has changed over the years.Maybe you’ll find your own Chuck Bass if you go to the Empire Hotel.
4. Explore the ‘Forgotten’ Boroughs
I’m guilty of this too, but it’s easy to forget that NYC is made out of five boroughs. Of course, everyone knows Manhattan, and there has been more foot traffic in Brooklyn since now it’s become “hip” (aka gentrified). But, let us not forget about the Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island! The plus side is you won’t get bombarded by as many tourists as you would in the two ‘popular’ boroughs.
Check out the stunning New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx, Queen’s Jackson Heights is filled with every kind of food you can ever imagine. The Historic Richmond Town in Staten Island has literally paused the time to 1958—get a piece of history by exploring the 350-year-old houses and NYC’s oldest continuously operating farm.
5. Give Naked Yoga a Try
Don’t get me wrong, I’m very comfortable with my friends and consider most of them family. However, one of the few things I would NEVER do with them is naked yoga. To be frank, we’d probably be a disturbance to the class since we’d keep laughing at each other doing the poses.
But, without criticism, although well-intended, of your friends, you can take the practice more seriously. Naked yoga inspires you to take pride and pleasure in your unique physique and capabilities. Since everyone in the class is naked, it’s not as strange or awkward as you might think it would be. There dozens of studios that offer naked yoga in the city, but I personally recommend Naked in Motion.
6. Take a Class at the 92nd Street Y
Ok, so full disclosure, I might be a major nerd. But, I just appreciate how you’re never too old or too young to expand upon your education. However, having just received two Ivy League degrees, I don’t have the money or time to pursue any more degrees at the moment.
The classes that the 92nd Street Y offers are probably underutilized—from calligraphy to flamenco to CPR to hip-hop, they offer every kind of classes you can think of. The classes are super affordable, and they have various schedules so you can fit them in whatever kind of lifestyle you have.
7. Check Out an Alternative Movie/Performing Arts Theater
Ever want something fancier than a movie in a theater but not as expensive as a Broadway show? Then check out one of NYC’s many alternative theaters. This is the classic solo movie night but taken up a notch.
The Brooklyn Academy of Music has year-round performance showcases, and screenings of independent films; the Paris Theater shows art and foreign films; the IFC Center screens the best of the best independent films in this historic Waverly theater; and so many more!