Top 5 places for a restless introvert to go alone

Just because we’re introverted doesn’t mean we don’t like doing things! Here is my list of the best fun things to do when you want to get out of the house but don’t necessarily want to talk to anyone.

  1. Shopping. For the ambitious introvert, shopping can be a lot of fun alone. I do my best shopping when I don’t have to worry about other people judging my purchases. Plus, you get to spend as much or as little time as you wish in each store. Shopping is low on the list because it often involves a stressful environment with a lot of people, and there’s a high chance of running into someone you know. However, more often than not it’s a fun break to do on your own.
  2. Nature. Grab your favorite copy of Walden and spend the day outdoors. It’s easy to feel comfortable in your favorite outdoors spot, whether that’s deep in the woods or your own backyard. Bring a snack, take your bike out. Your heart and your soul will thank you for it! Just remember to stay safe when alone in the wilderness; don’t try rock climbing by yourself, for example, and don’t get lost.
  3. The Movies. I know, it seems lame to go to the movies yourself…but think about it. What is social about going to the movies? If you’re going to sit in silence for two hours, might as well take away the social stress of being around people—and yes, there will be others in the theatre, but they’ll be quiet and ignorable. Plus, you get that whole popcorn to yourself.
  4. The Gym. Though not my personal preference, the gym can be a great way to get yourself active without being bothered. Plug in some headphones and enjoy some music all while getting that blood flowing. Many gyms also offer calm classes that involve little interaction, like yoga. The best part about the gym is that if you run into someone you know, there’s no obligation to talk to them. A quick smile and wave and you’re back in the zone.
  5. The Library. Many of you may be saying, duh. The library is practically introversion incarnate. Well, yes, it’s great to curl up in the comfy sofa and read a rented book, but libraries are so much more than that! They offer art and cooking classes, book clubs and author readings. They give discounted passes to local museums, they host farmers markets on the front lawn, they have cafes with rich coffee and scones. What’s not to love about a library? Whether you go with a book and a chair in mind or you go looking for inspiration for another activity, the library is the top hub for people who want to do things but would prefer to go alone. And the best part? Quiet is mandatory.

A Thoreau Pilgrimage

“Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.” Henry David Thoreau.

My friends tend to be a bit cynical. Nothing is sacred—when I brought up that I was reading Thoreau in class, they immediately took to calling him nothing but an over-read hippie living in his parent’s backyard, who didn’t even live off the land like people think he did. He was a Ralph Waldo Emerson-wannabe whose 200-page-long rambling was somehow called a masterpiece.

Well…sure, yeah. But the thing to remember with Thoreau was that while he appreciated nature deeply, it was never his mantra to leave civilization altogether. After all, a lot of his work is quite political. He did love Emerson, and actually lived on land owned by Emerson (not his parents). However, beyond the cynical retaliation my generation sometimes tends to have, Thoreau is a pioneer of minimalism and the positives of solitude.

“Simplify, Simplify.”

My grandfather once gave me a shirt two sizes too big with that quote on it. He’s also given me about three different copies of Walden, and once mailed me a copy of Civil Disobedience, with his own highlights and notes in the margins. He’d often sketch trees, birds, lakes and mountains in the corners of the pages before giving them to me.

I think he saw introversion in me from a very young age. He too is an introvert, and spends quite a lot of time walking alone in the woods, fishing, reading, and sketching. He once sent me a letter with the only “I never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude,” written in it, another Thoreau quote.

It’s nice to have someone like that to look up to. Someone who won’t call you anti-social for wanting to be alone, but who will actually encourage it—in healthy doses, of course. I do think he was smart to tie nature to my ideas of solitude, though. Being alone in nature allows for all the positives of being alone without any of the negatives. You don’t feel lonely or unproductive when in nature.

While I think I have the “solitude” part down, I still have to work on “simplifying” things. That’s alright. Perhaps this summer I’ll go back to Walden Pond. Maybe being in that sacred place will help me understand, just as it helped Thoreau so long ago, and my Grandfather when he was my age. Perhaps this is our version of a pilgrimage.