If you are, at first, lonely, be patient. If you’ve not been alone much, or if when you were, you weren’t okay with it, then just wait. You’ll find it’s fine to be alone, once you’re embracing it. – Tanya Davis
I can vividly remember the day I became an adult. I was 19 years old and the only one of my friends who wanted to see the movie Flatliners one Saturday afternoon. So rather than missing the show, I decided I would explore new territory and go all by myself. I think at the time I felt equal parts mature adult and loser with no friends, but I was pretty proud of myself, none the less. It was a good place to start because once you got your ticket and popcorn, it was dark and no one really saw you or cared that you were at the movies alone. It felt like a cure for my propensity toward loneliness that I had been seeking for a long time.
When I was 23, my sweet love, Jason, died unexpectedly and left me with no one to go to movies with, eat out with, go to the arts or parties with. So not only was I mourning the loss of the most important person in my life at that time, I was also faced with the biggest case of loneliness I had ever seen. The timing was interesting, because I also ended up living alone for the first time during this mourning period, which could have been a blessing or a curse. I wasn’t sure. All I did know was that if I wanted to continue to be a part of the world outside my door, I would have to do it solo. Along with going to movies alone, I was also going out to restaurants by myself. It made it easier to do by taking a book or magazine with me so I could appear to be immersed in my reading and maybe no one would notice, speak to or feel sorry for me.
Suddenly it seemed like every friend I had decided to get married, and the social scene became a new frontier. Going to parties and weddings lone wolf style was a lot trickier than movies and restaurants. I was always so nervous walking in, but I found new freedom in being able to do whatever I wanted and leave whenever I was ready.
After I got married and had children, going somewhere by myself became a big treat, but divorce and every other weekend without my boys reintroduced being on my own. At first I thought I wanted to date for dating’s sake, or go out with someone a friend was trying to set me up with even though I really didn’t want to go…just so I wouldn’t be alone. But I realized that I like hanging out with me, both at home and outside my door. I would not trade all I have learned these past four years for all the hot dates in the world.
A friend sent me this YouTube video called How To Be Alone and I was reminded of how much I love what loneliness can bring. Loneliness brought me freedom and courage and wisdom and a better relationship with myself. There are still several things in Tanya Davis’ poem and otherwise that I haven’t tried yet, but here are a few places and things I now enjoy and sometimes prefer alone: going to movies, eating at restaurants, going to plays, going to dance performances, going to a coffee shop, going to church, visiting chapels, hiking in the woods, walking on the beach, going to a bookstore, going to yoga class, writing in a park, meditating anywhere, reading on a bench, going to an art gallery, being in a room full of people.