Monday, April 2, 2012

Doesn't mean I'm lonely when I'm alone

alone time at the National Gallery
*Thanks Kelly Clarkson for the post title

It was when I went away to college as an eighteen year old that I learned "how to be alone." I wasn't completely alone, per se: I had roommates who kept me company and my family just a phone call away. But the roommates all had their lives of school and work, and so I was learning the meaning of "being on your own." Sometimes it was awesome. To have the freedom to do whatever I wanted--to leave and come home without having to report to anyone--was great. Other times it really sucked. I remember one time when things with a guy I was dating totally fell apart and there was some roommate drama, and I wanted so badly to have a place to go besides my apartment. My family lived 5 hours away, so I didn't have the luxury of going to my parents for the afternoon. So instead I just drove around by myself.

It was that same year that I heard at some church-related meeting of a situation where someone the teacher knew had that mentality that "once this school year is over, I will be happy." Then, "well, once I'm done with school completely, then I will be happy." Which turns into "once I'm where I want to be in my job, then I'll be happy" and "once I'm married, then I know I will be happy," etc. 

I realized then that I needed to learn to how enjoy being by myself. I didn't want to be that person who kept putting off happiness because they didn't know how to be happy alone. So, I learned how to enjoy doing things alone. Sometimes I think I enjoyed my "alone time" a little too much. For example, I was so worried about going on a mission and having a companion all the time who I couldn't ditch without getting in trouble. And I admit that I was a little apprehensive about getting married and living with my husband after long distance dating for so long because I didn't know how to handle the idea that I would be with Victor 24/7. (And for the record, I shouldn't have been worried, because as it turns out, I really really like living with Victor)

Every time I go up to D.C. by myself to work, if I have the time, I like to have little outings by myself, which is sometimes going for a cup of tea, but mostly spending time in museums. This past week, I justified going over to Georgetown and picking up a cupcake for a friend's birthday, and some for me as well, naturally. There was a lovely little garden right off of the busy street, and it was so nice to sit and ponder about life and cupcakes, and then to walk around the cute streets wishing that the house my car was parked in front of really was my house. 

As much I have come to love my "alone time," there are still certain activities that I still find myself being self conscious about. With movies, I'm totally willing to go see a matinee by myself, and yet I can't get myself to go to an evening showing, especially on the weekends. And I've gone out to eat by myself a few times, but never at a formal sit down place, and never in the evening. 

Why is that?

How can I profess to be so confident in spending time alone, and yet I find myself having rules of what activities are appropriate and what time of day to do them. When I think about going out to eat alone, all I can think of is the "Friends" episode when Monica asks, "what's wrong with a woman eating alone?" to which Chandler responds, "Well obviously something. She's eating alone."

I've even found myself having feelings of sympathy when I see someone eating alone in a formal restaurant. "Poor them. I hope they're not lonely." Here I am sympathizing for them, but maybe they're just like me about loving alone time, and unlike me, they have the confidence to do the things I don't do. 

Do any of you find yourself in this predicament? Are these fears justified, or am I just being silly? I guess my real question should be this: if you saw me eating in a restaurant alone, what would you think of me? 

Anyway, that's all I really have to say. And to share this quote, which I really like.
"You cannot be lonely if you like the person you're alone with." --Wayne Dyer

It's so true. 


  1. You know me. I hate being alone. But now that I live with 1 roommate as opposed to the 3, 4, 7 I was used to having when I was single, I've learned to find things to fill my "alone" time. I can go to lunch by myself, but I'm with you, not sit down and not in the evenings. Tally's grandpa does it all the time though. He figures, no one else wants to go to Chuck-A-Rama for dinner? He will go by himself!

  2. Your grandpa-in-law has gumption, kelsy!