Alone doesn't have to mean lonely

Since becoming single and moving out on my own, I’ve been quite familiar with the best take out menus in Calgary and my Netflix account has been getting a pretty steady workout. I can tell you which Vietnamese restaurant to order from for some killer spring rolls and which Vietnamese place to order from if you’re looking to use up some of your sick days.

When I was in a relationship you wouldn’t often find us at home. We were always out trying new restaurants, at the movies, or taking part in new activities. But when I lost the person I had to do those things with, I lost my desire to do those things.

After living with another person, I relished in the fact that I had alone time. I loved living on my own. I was comfortable by myself and I was soaking up every minute of it. For months, I took advantage of this new found alone time. But one night when my pizza delivery guy showed up with my weekly order and greeted me with “How is my girl doing? Here’s your small cheese pizza, just like last weekend” a realization hit me right in the face. I had become too comfortable being alone.

I am an outgoing people person. I thrive off human connection, I’m that person in the lineup at the grocery store who will strike up a conversation with the stranger behind me. I love people, but I found myself in place of isolation.

I had stopped doing the things that I loved most. I stopped venturing out to new spots in the city, I stopped going to the movies, I was just content with me, pizza, and Netflix. I was okay being on my own, on my own. But I wasn’t ok being on my own around people.

I think this is a common fear for most, to be out in public doing things that are meant to be shared with someone, by yourself. Just the thought of going out to eat at a restaurant by myself made me nauseous.

So that’s what I did.

These past few weeks I decided to do three things that I have been avoiding since being single. My first task was to try a new hobby, which is how I fell in love with boxing.

I wanted to try something that would get me out of the house, interacting with new people, and that pushed me out of my comfort zone. Deciding to take up boxing was the perfect thing.

My first class I walked up to the doors wanting to knock myself out because I couldn’t stop thinking how stupid I was, and that people would laugh at me, and if that didn’t kill me surely a solid hour of exercise was going to. But to my surprise I survived, and I liked it.

I left my first class feeling more empowered than ever before. Not just because I beat up a bag for an hour, but because I went by myself and did something so far out of my comfort zone.

So, after surviving my first challenge I moved onto the next.

Going to the movies has been a favourite activity of mine since I’ve been a little girl. Growing up my best friend and I would meet on main street and walk to the theatre together to see that week’s movie.

But for the past year I avoided the movie theatre like the plague. I would go occasionally with my girlfriends but other than that I reserved my movie nights to the comfort of my home.

But I decided to change that. One Thursday afternoon, I made my way to the theatre.

I picked the 2pm show time, I figured this would be a quiet time to go. I got my ticket and my snacks and went to find a seat. I chose a seat in the very back row on the side, so I could see everyone but no one could really see me.

A group of three guys sat in front of me. They occasionally looked back and I couldn’t help but wonder if they thought my date stood me up. In reality, they probably didn’t even care that I was alone.

To my surprise, no one pointed and laughed. Maybe no one even noticed me, maybe they did and made their own assumptions. But I took myself on a date to the movies and I really enjoyed it.

After two successful attempts at doing things on my own, I decided to conquer the big one.

I walked through the doors of a diner on a Friday morning. As I entered I was greeted by three men behind a bar. After a brief hello one of the men said, “just for you?” at this point I was pinching my left hand, biting my lip, and sweating. I felt my face go red as I said, “yup, just for me”. I was hoping he would sit me at the little table by the window, instead he said, “grab a seat at the bar”. At this point, I was ready to just turn around go home and make some Ichiban, but instead I went and found a seat at the bar. As I looked down the old wooden bar I noticed I was the only female. I was surrounded by older gentleman scrolling on their phones, focused on their food, or reading the paper.

I ordered a coffee and a breakfast skillet. I sat there for an hour looking through Instagram, replying to emails, and thoroughly enjoying myself.

I was able to sit in silence for an hour and just be on my own, and in actually in public, not from the isolation of my apartment.

Being comfortable on your own gives you a freedom that I didn’t know was even possible. Finding this comfort gave me the opportunity to enjoy all the things I used to enjoy in a relationship, but now on my own.

I’m no longer confined to my living room on a Friday night when my friends are busy. I now feel comfortable enough to take myself out knowing that being on my own in public will not lead to my premature death.

So, for anyone who has been too scared or too embarrassed to go to that new restaurant, or to try a new hobby, or to just go see a movie, don’t be. Let me be your living proof that you can do it and you can enjoy it.

Find comfort and good company in yourself and don’t let your relationship status determine your weekend plans.