Adventures in solitude

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.

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11 thoughts on “Adventures in solitude

  1. Im glad its not just me! I feel the same but I do sometimes prefer to be alone and it does get easier! 🙂 Theres something nice about being able to wander around on your own and take your time without anyone bothering you!

  2. I pretty much do everything by myself here. I go to the theatre alone, to movies alone, exploring alone, sitting in the park alone, shopping alone. The only things I’m yet to do alone are go for a meal, go to a concert/gig – pretty sure I’ll get to that as well. Although you’re right, the eating alone at a restaurant bit does feel a little too sad. I have sat in the park and had my lunch alone numerous times, if that counts. 🙂 It’s crazy how accustomed to solitude I’ve become since coming here but then again London is an easy city to be alone in. Solitude is awesome! Enjoy it! 🙂

  3. It’s simply just the easiest thing in the world sometimes, isn’t it? A lot of people I know are not going to understand this concept _at all_ . It doesn’t mean I don’t like you, I just want some time to organize the voices in my head (sometimes literally) So I hope giving written evidence doesn’t make us complete social pariahs 😀

  4. I’ve done movies alone as far back as I can remember. Maybe it’s just ’cause I tend to be a bit of a snob when it comes to movies. Or, I don’t know. I’d wait at least a week before going to see a movie I’d like – ’cause that would guarantee less people (there have been times when I’ve had the whole hall to myself, oyeah). I enjoy it better by myself.

    Being socially retarded does suck at times though. Food courts? HELL. I can’t eat. “Am I holding the fork right?”, “Oh SHIT, I dropped this really small piece of chicken onto the plate, while moving it from the fork to my mouth, everyone must have seen that! I’m humiliated! RUN!”.

    You know.

  5. When I was in college in India, I went through both phases. The part where you do everything as a group, from meals to outings to going to class to partying etc, etc., and the part where you have no one to do anything with. I stayed back a year, and I remember waking up late, going to college for a while, then just walking around town, deciding on new places to eat, then stopping off at a Playstation arcade for hours, then again trekking somewhere else, going for movies – it was quite an experience, and to be honest I think it’s an important phase. You need to be comfortable being with yourself to be comfortable being with other people.

  6. “We should look for someone to eat and drink with before looking for something to eat and drink, for dining alone is leading the life of a lion or wolf”

    • “I like eating alone. I want to start a chain of restaurants for other people who are like me called ANDYMATS – The Restaurant for the Lonely Person. You get your food and then you take your tray into a booth and watch television.” (Andy Warhol)

      (I actually agree with you but I thought I’d just chuck in a quote as well, for kicks)

  7. I’m not anti social by any standard but often enjoy the company of my own eating alone, having coffee alone, watching movies, plays, attending art exhibitions even concerts alone, the craziest been travelling alone on holidays.. There are two reasons for me to do that

    1) mostly it’s the urge to do certain things spontaneously since I am a “spur of the moment person”; say I need to have a cup of coffee from X place or I feel like a movie that time ; I’d call up my friends to see if they are free, but say they are not available I don’t sulk and change my plans, I do it alone anyway
    2) a MUST DO situation ; say it’s a concert/ play that I don’t want miss and none of my friends are interested , I don’t stay at home and get bogged down

    I know I get uncomfortable at times, get all conscious but it dies down the moment the lights are dimmed , the curtains open, or until my food appears in front of me.. I enjoy; I get wrapped in what’s in front of me and focus on that alone and the rest just disappear

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