The first time can be scary, but once you experience it, you'll understand the joys of spending time alone.
When I used to see someone sitting alone and having a meal, I'd always wondered what was going on in their heads. I honestly never had the courage to do that myself. Having dealt with a lot of demons while growing up, I came with a lot of insecurities that made it quite difficult for me to do anything by myself. Something as simple as going back to my empty house after a dinner with friends would put me in a state of panic. I could never go for movies I really wanted to unless someone else was ready to come along with me. I'd even offer to cover their ticket, just so I'd have company and wouldn't have to go alone. That's how anxious I was about being alone.
For me, being alone and being lonely used to mean the same thing. I thought if I went out to have a meal by myself, people would pity me and talk about me, saying I had no friends. This held me back from a lot of things, especially ones I really wanted to do or experience but I wouldn't because it would mean doing them alone. At that point, I figured it was better to miss out on the experience than go for it alone.
Boy, was I wrong about that. My perspective changed after I got stood up by a friend at the movies. I'd booked two tickets and was waiting with popcorn when my friend had to cancel last minute. Cue the panic attack, but then I thought about it long and hard. Why not just go sit in a dark theater, since I was already there, armed with snacks? It would be a waste of money and of food to let it be. I mustered up my courage and went in, and took my seat.
What happened for the next two hours was MAGICAL. I had a seat for me and one for the popcorn. Since I'd booked the corner seat, there was no one sitting next to me, which was blissful. I did not have to waste time talking to anyone and could simply focus on the movie. This experience emboldened me and made me believe that I could do things by myself and that I did not have to be afraid of being alone.
So I started to push myself. I went to the mall alone and shopped. I ended up saving a lot of money and have some quiet me-time as well. Then, I went for a meal alone. I took one of my favorite books along, ordered a meal, sipped on some coffee, and read my book in a corner—it wasn't a bad experience at all. In all honesty, it had me wishing I'd taken the leap sooner. It took me a while. but I realized that there's no shame in doing things alone. I began enjoying myself and realized I wanted to do this more often.
Earlier, I spent a lot of time worrying about what other people, people I did not even know, would think about me. Too often, I'd listen to my heart over my brain and give up on the things I really wanted to do in life, just because of the lack of company. I had always conflated being alone with loneliness, thought that people who did not have friends were the ones who always ended up being alone, and that, in turn, made them lonely.
It took me time to get to where I am. Now, I don't need company to enjoy a movie, eat at a nice restaurant, or go shopping. I have things I want to do in life, and if someone else wants to accompany me for it, then that's cool with me. If no one does, that's fine by me too. This newfound clarity—and I am glad to say it—has done wonders for my anxiety. I don't have as many panic attacks as I used to, probably because I'm slowly starting to enjoy my own company and falling a little in love with myself.
I've started to feel a lot more confident doing things alone, and this is mostly because I don't really care what others think of me. This was definitely not the case when I'd begun going out and doing things by myself. From constantly looking around to see if anyone was staring at me, to now smiling at people in assurance when they seem timid, I have come a long way and I am proud of myself for every single step I've taken thus far. It wasn't easy, but it was definitely worth it.Disclaimer : The views expressed in this article belong to the writer and are not necessarily shared by gomcgill.com