We all know how this goes by now. You go back to work on a Monday morning and the standard conversation with colleagues goes something like this:
"What did you do this weekend?"
"I *insert vaguely scintillating thing here*"
"Who did you go with?"
Now, I may be biased because I already loathe small talk with a passion usually reserved for olives or James Blunt, but I find this social tic curious. In my mind, the next question should be "How was it?" or "OMG did you go to that new trendy place that does donuts crossbred with scotch eggs?" But no, everyone wants to qualify my enjoyment by who I was with.
Of course, I am usually alone. Which garners a myriad of responses. If it's international travel I'm "brave". If it's going to the cinema it's "I've always wanted to do that but it's a bit weird" WHY IS IT WEIRD TO GO ALONE TO A PLACE YOU'RE NOT SUPPOSED TO TALK TO PEOPLE? The only possible reason is I've come up with is that the servings of popcorn are insurmountable without a team mate. But I digress.
Maybe I'm just lucky to really enjoy my own company. I'm thrilling to spend time with. Honestly. I don't tire myself out. I don't ask myself stupid questions. I don't make fun of my own dietary requirements in restaurants. Being with myself is the ultimate. I can leave when I want to, I can wander in the wrong direction because I saw something shiny, everything happens at my whim.
Looking over what I'm saying, it makes it sound like I am just deeply selfish and unwilling to compromise. I can give you a few testimonials from people who love me that will tell you the opposite (hi mum!). I just feel that being alone should be everybody's default position and that needing company, at most, should be our secondary state of being.
In my regular quest for new local adventures, I've Googled "best places to go alone in London" and the results are disappointing. They assume, because you're alone, that you're lonely. They suggest how to meet people. I live in London. I HAVE people. Perhaps what I should be googling is "best places to go where people won't give you the side eye for taking up a table for two when there's only one of you" because to be honest, it can be awkward, even for a seasoned self-dater like me. It shouldn't be, but in world set up for couples, families and groups, it will take a bit of an adjustment in thinking for people to stop assuming you've been stood up if you're having a cocktail alone.
The truth is, at many points in your life you're going to be completely alone, often when you really don't want to be. So why not get comfortable with it in the meantime by spending some quality fun time with yourself? It alarms me when people say they can't be alone with their own thoughts, or that they're uncomfortable spending time alone at home. You shouldn't always need someone else to be be a buffer between yourself and your emotions.
I'm not advocating spending every second alone, either. That's too far in the other direction. Although there have been times when I've been working from home, living alone and perfectly content not seeing another human for sometimes days on end, I know that spending that much time alone can be a real hit to your social skills. And it's as important to give people who love you some face time with you, as it is important for them to respect your need for space. See. I can compromise.
All I'm really asking of you, is that the next time you're at a loose end - before you reach for your phone and frantically send "hey WYD?!!?!" to that guy you went on a date with once who you only hang out with cause he's local, stop. For heaven's sake stop. Look in the mirror and tell the person you see "Hey you. I'm gonna take you on a date today. And I'm gonna treat you real nice."
But I know revolutions take time, and as I career towards Brighton on my own to spend a day running along the seafront like a giant dork, I'm already picturing the conversations with my colleagues when I go back to work; "I love Brighton! Who did you go with?"
Oh actually, I went with my favourite travel companion, my best friend, my most trusted confidant. Myself. And it was fricking awesome.