I used to believe I couldn’t do anything if I had to be by myself. There were many times in high school when I wanted to explore the city but chose not to, because there was no one to go with me. There were so many events that I wanted to go to in uni but never attended because I didn’t know anyone going. There was that year I kept talking about getting another piercing done but was too afraid to because no one wanted to get one done with me. There were volunteering opportunities that I wanted to sign up for but never did because no one else was interested.
This all sounds incredibly sad. And you know what? It is.
This realisation hit me, perfectly timed with the New Year, and I wallowed in my thoughts for a long time trying to figure out why I kept on letting this happen. I cast my mind back to 16 year old me, 18 year old me, 20 year old me … and I noticed one recurring thing I kept telling myself every time I had faced the same situation.
“I can’t go because there’s no one to go with me.”
There are so many things wrong with that statement alone but what mentally slapped me across the face was “I can’t go”. Uh, yah you can foo. You just didn’t want to go. What’s even more pitiful is that I truly believed that and never questioned it. I actually believed that the lack of another person’s presence (so literally, NOTHING) was by some magic force physically stopping me from doing the shit I kept saying I wanted to do.
A lot of people don’t love to be alone or do things alone and yes, sometimes things are more fun when you get to share that fun with somebody else, and sometimes having someone you know with you makes going to a place filled with strangers much easier. BUT, being alone does not take away your ability to go where you want to go and do what you want to do.
So I sipped through my 2nd out of 5 coffees for the day and said hey, time to fix this. I started by wondering why the idea of doing something by myself felt uncomfortable and daunting, and after much introspection came to two conclusions, that in most cases:
- the underlying fear was the fear of looking like a loner in public, and
- the underlying need was the need for an OK.
I kept trying to “protect myself” from being in a situation where I’d rock up somewhere and be the only person who didn’t know anyone, or where I’d be sitting at a restaurant or a cafe and be the only one surrounded by empty chairs. On top of that, being so uncertain of everything and growing up with an ask before you act mentality created this false and unnecessary need for “permission” or “the OK” to do something, and by having someone else jump on board with me it allowed me to feel better about my decisions. Kind of like when you want to down a bunch of chocolate and then you offer it to other people to eat some too so you don’t feel as bad.
But why should I care if I look like a complete loner in public? Why does it matter what all of these people around me are thinking when I’ll probably never see them again, they have no idea who I am, and they have absolutely no idea why I’m here? And even if there is one dickhead in the crowd who wants to point a finger and laugh about it, I can always just turn around and “point” a finger back at them. Kidding. Kinda.
And really, if you say you want to do something and a month later or a year later or maybe many years later you still say the same, chances are it is something you actually want to do and you can stop asking yourself whether it’s OK or the “right” thing to do.
On that note, I’m aiming to make 2018 the year I begin to get off my ass to tick things off the Shit I Need To Get Done Before I Die list. I bought a notebook to write it in and everything – it’s great! On the other side I have a list of new experiences and other new things I’ve actually done.
Right now I’m sitting alone in the Melbourne Central food court, writing this blog post. And right before this I was eating dinner alone in this food court. And before that I was happily wandering around alone looking at all of the pretty things I want to buy but can’t afford.
Hahaha who are we kidding! I actually did buy myself something pretty 😛
As I was doing all of this, I was thinking about how good it felt to be out and doing stuff just because I felt like it, and there was no intense debate with myself about whether I should or should not be spending my Friday night like this. I’ve had a pretty great time so far – I think I spent about half an hour doing rounds in Muji because I can’t help but plan my life and future in that store, and discovered an awesome shop called Milligram that stocks a range of minimally designed high quality notebooks and other quirky things. Oh, and I finally got to satisfy my cravings for Indian food.
It’s getting late and this chair I’m sitting on is extremely uncomfortable so I’m going to pack up and head off now so I can spend the rest of the night frantically searching my bed and well, my entire room for the white tail spider above my bed that I somehow lost sight of and failed to exterminate this morning. It’s very possible that I will be sleeping on the couch tonight. Alone.