Why It's (More Than) Okay To Go It Alone
I’m single, and I’m 30.
I’ve been 30 for about six months. I’ve been single my whole life. As you might imagine, I spend a lot of time by myself. It’s okay. I’m rather introverted no matter what you think of that definition if you know me in real life.
I like being by myself.
By myself, I read books, fall in love with characters, listen to music and listen to people smarter than I talk about things they know. I go to the movies by myself. I go out to dinner by myself.
I honestly don’t really think about it much. Having always been alone, I am so used to it that the idea of walking into a restaurant or bar and asking for a seat for one is second nature rather than an insurmountable wall of self conscience.
I’m thinking about it now, as I write this, because I am again out to dinner by myself, sitting at my favorite bar with my laptop and a glass of my favorite red wine. Sitting next to me is another young woman – probably about my age – who is also eating and drinking alone while writing in a notebook.
She got here first. I don’t know much about her aside from the fact that she speaks English as a second language (her accent is delightful). When I sidled up to the empty seat beside her and set up shop, trading pleasantries with the staff who all know me by name and greet me with a wink while I set up my laptop, she paused in her writing and observed.
I ordered dinner.
I ordered a glass of red. I did not specify a label – my bartender knows my taste and price range and always serves me something I love. I write here regularly.
Everything was delivered like clockwork, and I was left alone.
“I am glad I am not the only girl eating dinner here alone,” she confided after questioning after the glass of wine I was drinking, ordering one for herself and a small vegetable side.
There is a camaraderie in eating at the bar. Ask Lorelei Gilmore. She will agree.
Regardless, our simple exchange – she has gone back to her writing and dinner as I have gone back to mine – got me thinking.
So many of my girlfriends over the years have said some variation of the following to me:
“You’re so brave – traveling like you do, by yourself. I could never do that.”
“I can’t go to the movies by myself!”
“But I have no one to eat with!”
I’ve always been confused by this.
What if you have no one to go out with? Are you going to stay inside and never interact with anyone outside of work again?
Are we really so trained by a society that spent millennia protecting and holding back the bearers of children that the idea of independence is not only frowned upon but actually scary?
I love going out by myself. I make friends with strangers. I learn to trust my instincts. I have learned my limits with no one to rely upon but myself. I hope that you, dear readers, know that it is okay to go out by yourself. Obviously, learn your limits, go safe places, and befriend the locals, but there is no shame in sitting at the bar of a favorite restaurant and having dinner alone.
Anyone who judges you sucks.
You’re awesome. Own it. Eat what you want. Eat where you want. Bring a book if you want. Bring your cell phone. Learn to love spending time with yourself.
I’m betting you are not half bad as a conversationalist.
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