Yep, Just Me!
Being alone is a whole other world of freedom. No one to answer to, no one to explain yourself to, no one to cater for, no one to compromise with. It gives you time to be unabashedly you. Be loud, be selfish, go where you want, do what you want, whenever you want and however you want. The only person you need to please is you and that makes things a lot easier. It also means that every situation you put yourself in, is one you more than likely actually want to be in. Being alone makes you realise that if you don’t want to be there then you most definitely shouldn’t be.
But sometimes, being alone isn’t easy. Who am I kidding? Being alone can be fucking hard going. Sure, you have absolute freedom in which choices you make but that can wear thin pretty quickly when you realise that there is no one else to share the experience with. No one to challenge you and offer a different perspective. Aside from this, other people often find it difficult to accept that the only person present is just you. Ah, that one little word can be enough to tip you over the edge after a particularly bad day. “Just” you. It’s not the first time I have sat in a restaurant, waiting an inordinate amount of time for a menu as the waiter, who does not appear to be busy, makes shifty glances in my direction from time to time. Usually, after grabbing the waiter’s attention and asking for a menu, the first question he will ask is, “Will it be just you?” Yep, just me!
Being alone takes practice. Being alone also takes balls, if you ask me. I am not talking only about romantic relationships here, I am talking about the platonic kind as well. It can be so easy to fall back on and rely on other people to make choices for you and ease you into certain situations. Stepping into unknown territory completely alone, no one to point you in the right direction or make good suggestions which you may or may not have already thought of, takes courage. But if you want to learn just what kind of a person you are or can be, there is no better or faster way to find out. You will more than likely be surprised at just how resilient you actually are.
I moved to Dublin alone last year after having come out of a long term relationship, which I had been in since my teens. I had one friend in Co. Clare (4 hours journey from Dublin), who helped me through the shock of the first few days (thank you). I also had an acquaintance in Dublin, who went out of her way to help me settle in during the first weeks (thank you). After that I was Alone. Alone with a capital A. Big, fat ALONE. No friends, no family. This realisation only hit me after the first week, as I sat in a coffee shop drinking a cup of tea and munching on a sausage roll. I’m not even sure what triggered it. All I know is one minute I was munching, the next I was doing a pathetic job of holding back tears and making a quick exit before I turned into the weird crying girl at table 5.
Thankfully, I have come a long way since then. I suppose you could tackle the situation of having no one around in one of two ways: you can either withdraw into yourself and have a miserable time of things, or you can do what I did and throw yourself into every situation with all you’ve got. It was a case of ‘fake it till you make it’; I was never a particularly outgoing person but after realising that the only way to meet people and enjoy every moment I could was to take the bull by horns and put myself out there for all to see, I made the effort.
Over the past year I have learnt that I adapt extremely well to most circumstances, can hold my own in a conversation with people from all walks of life, am quite approachable and make myself and other people feel at ease just by plastering a big smile on my face. Honestly, never ever underestimate the power of a smile 🙂 I have gained a huge amount of confidence in myself and my ability to make the best of every situation life throws my way.
So, yes, being alone has its bad and good points. There are shitty days and fantastic moments you will never forget and if ever there was a learning experience, being by yourself is it. Above all, being alone has taught me to be somebody I am proud of and happy to spend time with because, whilst you can’t always rely on other people, your own company is something you can always depend upon, no matter where you find yourself in the world.
Here are a few ways I have found help me to cope with being alone and/or meet new people when I don’t feel like being on my own:
- Take a book wherever you go. This can ease those awkward moments when you are sat by yourself in a busy cafe/restaurant and can also be a great conversation starter.
- Smile and don’t be afraid to make small talk with the waiter, bartender, person sat next to you at the bus stop, etc. If this seems to make them uncomfortable, stop; it’s that easy. More often than not, people are happy to have a chat and this can lead to you finding out about some really interesting things going on or, better yet, finding someone to go with!
- Rather than trying to blend in, be proud to stand out and let your personality shine through wherever you are. This is a great way to meet people who have similar interests to you.