The first time I went out for coffee alone I was horribly uncomfortable. I felt awkward, conspicuous and acutely aware of the groups of people congregated at the coffee shop. I skulked over to the nearest table, took out my book and started reading. I tried to flag down a waiter repeatedly, but failed spectacularly. Then to top things off, the menu flew up and hit me on the face (it was one of those open air coffee places. Also, rather windy that day) Mortified, I stuck it out for a few minutes trying to hide behind my paperback and then picked up my dignity and fled.
Things have improved considerably since then (touch wood). I like to think I’ve reached the ripe old age where I’ve shaken off the need to be surrounded by a pack of people all the time. It started off going for art exhibitions alone – none of my friends were keen on art and I didn’t want them to be compelled to come with me – and then gradually shopping, random exploring, working/studying in coffee shops etc. Nothing too big, just baby steps. I’m yet to go for a movie alone or to a proper restaurant. I think I could do movies solo after a while, but somehow a meal alone, well, just seems rather lonely.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not completely anti-social. I’m not the biggest extrovert but give me good company and a good atmosphere and I’ll purr like a kitten. I’m just comfortable being by myself and I quite like being my own master. I do feel awkward sometimes but keeping a book in your bag at all times helps. You don’t feel so aware of yourself (what do I with my hands? WHY is she staring at me feet?) and it keeps you adequately occupied. I won’t lie, there are moments when I do miss the conversation and the company but given a choice between people you’re not entirely comfortable with, forcing yourself to make small talk and being by yourself, usually the latter is preferable.