When I was in elementary school my best friend was Sarah Bradshaw. She was beautiful and funny. She was on the elite soccer team in Lethbridge and did gymnastics. Two things I wanted to do but didnt do. Two qualities I wanted to embody but was too insecure to epitomize. And I remember that while I wasnt allowed to go to the mall by myself, she used to take the bus and go hang out there. I was always so envious. Envious but afraid to do the same. As a ten year old, I remember distinctly thinking to myself that it was awkward going to the mall by yourself. You didnt have anyone to talk to. There was no one there to ask approval and validation from. And you walked around lonely, hoping that no one would notice that you had no one to be there with.
Even as a young child I knew that the self-confidence to be alone was something that I wanted. More than being in gymnastics and playing on an elite soccer team, I wanted to be ok being by myself. I started small, with the mall. At first it was awkward. I felt like people were staring and wondering why I was by myself. I hated when I'd see someone I knew there.
But as I stopped worrying about other people I began to enjoy the solitude. I didnt have to wait for other people in stores I was done with. If I was tired of being there I could just leave. And I could take as long as I wanted trying things on, without worrying that someone else was bored. It became a nice break from other people. I could think and search and not worry.
But I wasnt done there. I love going to movies, but convincing people to want to see the same movies can often be a challenge. The day I started going to movies by myself was bliss. Sure, waiting in line to get a ticket was a little weird. But once I sat down, I enjoyed the movie just as much as if I had been accompanied. And often more - because going by myself gave me a thrill of independence.
Last May I made another step forward. When I first graduated from high-school I worked at the Ric's Grill Water-tower restaurant as a hostess. It was shamelessly boring most of the time, but several times a week in the afternoon a man would come and sit at the same table and eat and read the paper. As his wait staff we cursed him something awful because he would sit for hours and his tip was pitiful. But there was something about going to a nice restaurant and sitting down for a good meal by yourself that instantly appealed to me. Well it has been years since that man eating alone. But one night I wanted to go out to eat. So I went to a restaurant. The hostess asked for how many and I said one. She asked if I wanted to sit at the bar and I declined that offer. I wanted to sit at a table and enjoy a nice meal.
I had thought that it would be weird eating alone in a restaurant. But it wasnt. I watched other tables while I waited for my food. I sat and thought about whatever that came to mind. And when my food came, I ate. I didnt feel uncomfortable. I didnt feel lonely. What I felt was contentment. I had decided that my own company was company enough. And that was rather satisfying.
While I've been slowly improving at contented solitude, I'm not perfect at it. (Nor do I think I should be or ever will be.) Boston has been lonely for me. You dont realize how surrounded you are by people and how involved until you move away from them all. But every time I go to a movie by myself, or shopping, or whatever act of contented solitude I choose, I remember that being alone is sometimes the thing that shows you're ok as a person. I think its good to be able to do things by yourself.
"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.
Society is afraid of alonedom, like lonely hearts are wasting away in basements, like people must have problems if, after a while, nobody is dating them. but lonely is a freedom that breaths easy and weightless and lonely is healing if you make it.
Cuz if you're happy in your head than solitude is blessed and alone is okay."
--- Tanya Davis