Being alone in public

I used to not do certain things because other people did not want to do them, or at least I couldn’t find anyone who wanted to at that moment. For instance go to a movie I wanted to see or shopping or to a comedy show. The idea of sitting alone among people who were with other people – who weren’t rejects like me – was just too embarrassing. 

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve embraced doing certain things alone. I love shopping alone–do it all the time. Yesterday I was talking to a friend about how great it is to go to a movie alone, though every time I’ve done this in America, I’ve felt like a bit of a sad sack, although in a way that I like to revel in. (When I lived in Europe in college, it felt a lot more normal to go to a movie alone, and I did it a lot).

Back in the U.S.,  a couple of years ago I saw the movie Up in the Air on my own. That is probably one of the best and one of the worst movies to see alone because it is about a guy who has let his job get ahead of forging meaningful human connections.

This past summer, I rode my bike around the city one day and ended up in Williamsburg. I tried to see friends but couldn’t make plans with them work out, so I decided to just eat at a restaurant alone.

And around the same time, I went to a local bar and got a drink on my own. Just one drink, after work, to let loose. On my own. It felt great. It’s so freeing to sit there and just have people have to deal with you being alone, to think you’re pathetic for it, or to admire you for it.

It is interesting that it is seen as pathetic to be alone–especially if you’re a woman. People rarely go to movies alone or to restaurants alone. When I was a teenager, even shopping wasn’t something you dared do on your own. What it comes down to is that we are scared to just be with ourselves, and we try every distraction, every other person or device or substance, to avoid being alone. There are reasons that we avoid being alone, a lot of which I think come down to a fear that we will disappoint ourselves or bore ourselves or think about things that are a bit unsettling.

But once you get over the hump, it can become kind of addicting to be alone. Sometimes it’s fun to try doing a thing you’ve never done alone. Like I still plan some day to go to a concert on my own. Of course this does not negate trying to do things with friends, but let’s face it: oftentimes friends don’t want to do what I want to do, and vice versa. Why should that limit me from doing the stuff I want to do or limit them?

Not to reduce what I’m saying to a song by Patti LaBelle and Michael McDonald, but that’s exactly what I’m going to do: 

And now I’m going to go to a movie alone. Happy Sunday, Tumblr-verse.