learn to enjoy your own company

I’ll never forget the first time I went to a movie by myself.

I think I was 20 years old and they were playing “Life of Bryan” at the University theatre. I really wanted to see it but I couldn’t find anyone to go with me. Finally, I said “screw it”, and decided to go by myself.

One of my girlfriends was shocked!

You’re going to a movie by yourself? You’re going to look like a loser, I could never go to a movie by myself.

(Yes, she said “loser” – in hindsight, maybe she wasn’t that good a friend)

She did not deter me and so off I went.

While standing in line to get a ticket, I felt someone bump my shoulder from behind. I turned around and it was a guy that I had met a while ago – a friend of a friend. He was there with another friend of his to see the movie.

He asked who I was with and I said no one.

Like my girlfriend, he was shocked; but shocked in a different way. He said that it was so cool that I would go to a movie by myself and, if I really wanted to be by myself that was fine but if not, I was welcome to join him and his friend.

Of course, I joined him and his friend. I wasn’t there to make a statement of any kind and I appreciated the invitation. We enjoyed the movie and went for coffee afterwards.

Yup, I went to a movie alone and wound up having coffee afterwards with two guys. They also both wound up asking me out on a date. Not bad.

Who’s the loser now Shelley?

I still go to movies by myself. I don’t come out with dates anymore but that’s okay.

I’ve gone out for lunch alone too.

I remember once, when I was having lunch and enjoying reading my book (I think that was when I was in my Dean Koontz phase and I could get lost in one of his books for hours), a man came and sat across from me.

He sat down, uninvited, and said;

I hate to see someone eating alone, you look so lonely.

I said,

I’m not lonely, I’m alone on purpose. I am enjoying my club sandwich and reading my book. I am quite fine.

He didn’t believe me and stayed; he just kept talking. The waitress noticed my struggle and finally helped me ask him to leave. He was really spoiling my zen.

Now, it’s not that I don’t like doing things with other people. It’s always better to share lunch or the laughter of a funny movie with someone else. But, if a companion isn’t available, I’m not going to sit around the house. I will go anyway!

I’ve even gone on vacation alone.

It was about three years after my separation and I was at my wits end. I needed a vacation so badly. Not another “stay-cation” and not a vacation with the kids to any place with a water slide. I needed an actual “adult” vacation.

But schedules and obligations made going away with a friend impossible so what was I to do?

Then I remembered Enza. Enza was a great friend that I used to work with. I worked in the Canada office, she worked in the US office. She had left the company a while ago and moved back home to New York.

I called Enza and said;

If I get myself to New York City, will you have dinner with me?

Her answer was immediate;

Absolutely!!

That was my motivation and so I went to New York City (Manhattan!) for four days – all by myself! And I had the greatest time!

In addition to a fabulous Italian dinner with Enza (the only activity that included another person) – I walked from Central Park down to Times Square, saw the New York Public Library, rode the subway to Battery Park, took a water taxi tour around the Statue of Liberty, toured Ellis Island and saw a Broadway show – all by myself!!

Don’t wait around!

I learned very quickly when I separated from my husband that you can’t wait around until you find someone to do something with or go somewhere with. There isn’t always going to be someone there.

When you don’t have that built in companion, it’s easy to start feeling very alone. And, if you aren’t careful, lonliness isn’t far behind.

Personally, I have never had a big problem being alone but, for some, it’s very difficult. Being comfortable with being alone takes practice and the longer you go without “practicing”, the harder it is to do.

There is a feeling of vulnerability when you’re outside alone. Have you ever felt that? You’re alone in a crowd of people and you feel like there is a huge spotlight on you with a neon arrow pointing down that says

look at her, she’s all by herself!

It’s a frightening feeling. Yes, even a seasoned “loner” like myself has felt it occasionally and I can certainly see how it could induce a panic attack.

But, frightening or not, I think everyone needs to learn how to enjoy their own company because there will come a day when you are alone and, if you don’t know how to do it, you’re in big trouble.

Even if you have a large circle of friends, family and/or a significant other, I encourage you to hang out with yourself every now and again. And I don’t mean hang around the house alone or run errands by yourself. That’s just “busyness” masquerading as activity.

I mean go outside of the house and do something – by yourself.

If you’re having trouble coming up with something to do, don’t work so hard at it. It may be that you’ve surrounded yourself with people for so long, you’re not really sure what you like to do.

So start small with a movie, or an art gallery and work your way up.

A trip to the library or bookstore is a great idea. Walk around and look at the books (or even just the book sections), you might find something new that piques your interest. Something that could start you on a whole new solo adventure. (Eat, Pray, Love comes to mind).

Spending time alone is a great way to learn more about yourself. You will probably find out that you’re pretty cool and that you like hanging out with yourself. And that’s not vanity, that’s healthy. If you can become one of your own best friends; you will never be bored or lonely!

Oh!

And don’t forget to take your new friend out for lunch!

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2 Comments
  1. I totally agree Babs. I have no problem doing things alone. There are times when I prefer it. I love people, but I find it peaceful and calming to do things on my own.

    • Calming is a good word Brenda. Time alone allows you to get away from the chaos of the world (and, yes, sometimes even friends and family can be chaos) and can awaken your senses. It’s a great way to recharge!

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