I recently returned from Wanderlust Festival, which I traveled solo halfway across the country to attend. Due to an impromptu flight cancellation and an unexpected overnight stay in Reno, I ate dinner alone at a restaurant for the first time in my life. And you know what? It wasn’t that bad.
Being alone doesn’t have to equal being lonely.
HOW TO BE ALONE by Tanya Davis
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.
We could start with the acceptable places, the bathroom, the coffee shop, the library. Where you can stall and read the paper, where you can get your caffeine fix and sit and stay there. Where you can browse the stacks and smell the books. You’re not supposed to talk much anyway so it’s safe there.
There’s also the gym. If you’re shy you could hang out with yourself in mirrors, you could put headphones in.
And there’s public transportation, because we all gotta go places.
Start simple. Things you may have previously avoided based on your avoid being alone principles.
The lunch counter. Where you will be surrounded by chow-downers. Employees that only have an hour and their spouses work across town and so they — like you — will be alone.
Resist the urge to hang out with your cell phone.
When you are comfortable with eat lunch and run, take yourself out for dinner. A restaurant with linen and silverware. You’re no less intriguing a person when you’re eating solo desserts and cleaning the whipped cream from the dish with your finger. In fact, some people at full tables will wish they were where you were.
Go to the movies. Where it is dark and soothing. Alone in your seat amidst a fleeting community.
And then, take yourself out dancing to a club where no one knows you. Stand on the outside of the floor until the lights convince you more and more and the music shows you. Dance like no one’s watching…because, they’re probably not. And, if they are, assume it is with best of human intentions. The way bodies move genuinely to beats is, after all, gorgeous and affecting. Dance until you’re sweating, and beads of perspiration remind you of life’s best things, down your back like a brook of blessings.
Go to the woods alone, and the trees and squirrels will watch for you.
Go to an unfamiliar city, roam the streets, there are always statues to talk to and benches made for sitting give strangers a shared existence if only for a minute and these moments can be so uplifting and the conversations you get in by sitting alone on benches might’ve never happened had you not been there by yourself.
Society is afraid of alone though, 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 breathes easy and weightless and lonely is healing if you make it.
You could stand, swathed by groups and mobs or hold hands with your partner. Look both further and farther in the endless quest for company. But no one’s in your head and by the time you translate your thoughts, some essence of them may be lost or perhaps it is just kept.
Perhaps in the interest of loving oneself, perhaps all those sappy slogans from preschool over to high school’s groaning were tokens for holding the lonely at bay. Cause if you’re happy in your head then solitude is blessed and alone is okay.
It’s okay if no one believes like you. All experience is unique, no one has the same synapses, can’t think like you, for this be relieved, keeps things interesting, life’s magic things in reach.
And it doesn’t mean you aren’t connected, that community’s not present, just take the perspective you get from being one person in one head and feel the effects of it. Take silence and respect it. If you have an art that needs a practice, stop neglecting it. If your family doesn’t get you, or a religious sect is not meant for you, don’t obsess about it.
You could be in an instant surrounded if you needed it. If your heart is bleeding make the best of it. There is heat in freezing, be a testament.