Pat Brothwell learns to do things by himself. And realizes that himself alone is not such bad company after all.
When I first got my job and moved out on my own one of the things I was most nervous about was living alone. I grew up with two siblings (one being my twin) in the type of house that always seemed to have people coming and going. I lived with three other guys in college in a house that always seemed to have people coming and going. I thought I’d be lonely, I thought I’d be bored, and I thought I’d have trouble falling asleep. It turns out that this was a completely unfounded fear.
I loved living alone, mostly for selfish reasons. I liked not having to compromise. I could stay up as late as I wanted or get up as early as I wanted without fear of inconveniencing others. I only had my messes to clean up and I couldn’t blame anyone but myself if they got a bit out of hand. I liked having complete reign over the television and being able to have as many friends down as possible. I also relished just how little use I had for pants.
My solo living ended a year later when I realized how fiscally responsible having a roommate was. I’m happy in my current situation but look back fondly on those selfish, pantsless days. I also think it helped turn me onto the world of doing things on your own.
Now I agree that 9 out of 10 times it’s more fun to do anything with friends. To this day most of my memories have little to do with the location or events but the crowd I was with. But, as life goes, there’s not always someone available. This went double for me when I moved three hours away from home to an area where I literally knew nobody. Despite my predilections I started flying solo more and more and realized how much easier life is that way and encourage more people to start spending a little more time with themselves.
I shouldn’t say that going out on my own was something I was completely uncomfortable with when I first moved to Lancaster. I ate by myself a lot in college. This was mostly due to convenience. I enjoyed big dinners with my friends or floormates where we caught up with each other and made weekend plans but sometimes no one was hungry when I was or else when everyone else wanted to eat didn’t fit into my schedule that great. I’d grab dinner and if I couldn’t find anyone I knew had no problem finding a booth and eating while reading or listening to music. I remember people balking when I told them I ate alone and, especially when food was concerned, could never quite figure this out. I have the eating habits of a small child and need to be fed at certain times. When I’m hungry I eat.
What I didn’t do until a couple of years ago was actually dine out by myself. I was far from the only person doing a dine and dash in between classes and library time during undergrad, but it was it was just that, the collegiate atmosphere and eating by myself was restricted to the cafeteria or Subway or one of the nearby pizza places. Until moving to Lancaster I didn’t go to an actual restaurant on my own. I remember the first time. It was a Thursday night. I was exhausted, I had no food, and no want to shop or prepare anything and to add on, I’d had a great week at work. I wanted to reward myself with something better than a hot pocket, so I poured myself a shot for liquid courage (don’t judge) and went to a nearby Irish pub where I had a nice dinner and celebratory glass of beer for myself. You know what? No one stared, it wasn’t weird and I had such a good time I think I stayed for a nightcap or two.
I’ve been all about doing things on my own since then. I eat by myself, I’ll go to the bar alone I do solo hikes and I don’t think that I’ve gone to see a movie with someone else in years. In fact, ever since I started going to movies alone it’s confused me as to why movies are such a social experience in the first place. I don’t go to the movies often so when I do it’s because there’s something I’d like to actually watch. If I want to socialize I’d much rather it is at a bar or restaurant where we could, you know, actually socialize.
Someone was recently telling me how one of our mutual friends went to a concert on her own. She’d initially went with a group but wanted to sit up close because it was a concert she really wanted to see. Her friends didn’t feel like ponying up any extra money, so she paid for the floor seats and enjoyed the show. I thought this was great. If there’s a show you really want to see, or place you want to visit, or activity you really want to try and you can’t find accompaniment, why not go alone?
I feel that especially now that I’m getting into my late 20’s and my friend’s schedules grow increasingly hectic that it’s not always feasible to have a partner in crime. Should I miss out on things I’m able to do just because I can’t find someone to do them with me? I don’t think so.
I also believe that venturing out solo has been beneficial for my person. It’s definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone and it forces you to initiate conversation in situations you normally wouldn’t if you’re surrounded by friends. As I’ve also touched upon, my willingness to fly solo has also allowed me to experience somethings I don’t think I’d have gotten to had I been waiting for others.
Now brace yourselves, because I’m about to get a little bit deep here, but I also believe that if more people started embracing doing things on their own we’d all be a little bit more conversational and less judgmental. The lone wolf still carries somewhat of a stigma and the only way to rectify it is to normalize. It’s just a thought.
photo: dennis / flickr