The times of my life where I have felt most fulfilled have been seasons where I've been okay being alone. I have never really been someone who has dated nor have my friend groups stayed consistent (since I've moved a lot). Because of this I had to learn to be fine with being by myself, and also enjoying that time. Yet, at times I still feel the need to justify my choices to go out on my own to others. I think a lot of people have this mind set where, if they see a woman alone in a theater or restaurant, they think to themselves "oh sad, she must be lonely." Here's the truth: whether your married, single, or living with your five best friends...being able to go out alone is one of the greatest luxuries and should be valued by all.
I was initially inspired by my brother. Throughout his teenage years and continuing into his adult life, he went to movies by himself. To me, that always seemed weird. Why would you do something like that alone when you could go with friends? Then I had an opportunity: It was winter of 2015 I believe and the movie Brooklyn was out in theaters. This was a movie that was right up my alley, but I could not find a single person who would see it with me. So I went to go see this film solo...and to this day it is one of my most treasured memories.
Going to a movie theater alone felt like an adventure. I was able to enjoy the film without focusing on whether or not the person next to me was enjoying it to. My opinion of this movie could be developed without the influence of someone else. I was able to have my own intimate connection with the characters. I related to the main characters struggles and dreams. Sitting in this movie alone, I could just BE.
Going to movies on my own became a new normal for me. Going to restaurants on my own however...that took me a couple more years. There was one morning this past December where I had some time to kill before work, so I decided to go out to my favorite breakfast place. It was a sit down restaurant, not a grab and go place, but I didn't let myself over think it. I showed up to the restaurant, and because I was going solo I was seated right away. Everyone around me was talking about Christmas shopping and all the errands they had to do. There was absolutely zero pressure on me. I just sat and people watched while eating great food.
At work later that day I ran into a friend who was also at the same place having breakfast. She pointed out how she noticed I was alone and that I seemed happy. She expressed admiration as well as a longing to be able to go out on her own and do the same. In that moment I felt happy and also sad. Why do we all feel like this simple act of going out alone requires a huge amount of courage? Why can't this be more of a norm?
We've been living in a world that has taught us to neglect sitting with our own thoughts. We learn that it is better to be distracted by other things and other people. If we are out by ourselves it apparently means we are lonely. Lets get rid of this way of thinking. If you have an opportunity to go out by yourself, you should do it. Allow yourself to feel the freedom to just not care about what "the normal thing to do" is. Don't feel like you have to be on your phone so it looks like you have stuff to do. Go to a coffee shop and just bring your wallet. Sneak a bunch of candy into a theater...AND NOT HAVE TO SHARE IT. Go to your favorite sit down eatery and have a whole appetizer for yourself. There are these unspoken rules that have created certain social norms. Guess what? You do not have to always follow these rules. It'll feel weird at first but remember this, you are your greatest companion and you should show yourself a little extra love.
(One of my goals for 2018 is to take a trip by myself and I can't wait! Also when I contacted my friend to see if I could use our conversation for this post, she told me she went out to eat by herself and she LOVED it)