There are certain places that it seems socially acceptable to patronize alone. Starbucks is probably the top of the list. People read, write, pretend to read, pretend to write, all while using free wi-fi and drinking delicious handcrafted beverages (or if you’re a cheap skate… water). Fast food joints also are fairly acceptable as someone could be on a break from work or are traveling and wanted to stretch their legs some. Grocery shopping, or pretty much any shopping for that matter is perfectly fine alone. What doesn’t seem fine… no, let me rephrase: What makes ME feel uncomfortable is going solo to places that I automatically think of as a social outing. Think: restaurant, bar, sporting event, movie, concert, etc…
I realize that I’ve been trying to force my way out of introversion… and tonight, I decided to take that introversion and see it as a gift. I took myself out on a date. It was kind of great. The whole time I was driving to my destination I was getting nervous about going in to the restaurant and having to say “just one”. I decided to pretend I was totally confident and secure, as if I had been dining out alone forever. The hostess didn’t bat an eye. I got a drink from the bar, sat down, amazingly enough, knew what I wanted to eat, ate, chatted with a couple different waitresses, the table next to me, and relaxed a bit. It was quite pleasant. Part of me wished I had brought my Kindle so I’d have something to distract me… but I think it was a good lesson in just being comfortable in silence and in my own skin (though I did play with my phone a bit… I always take pics of food).
After a fully satisfying meal with myself, it was time for my favorite Saturday of the month – roller derby. I sat down feeling a bit awkward pretending to save a seat for someone so I didn’t look pathetic. I know… that in and of itself is pathetic. The bout started and I loosened up some. There was a couple sitting next to me who had never been so one kept asking me what was going on, how points were scored, why it was a penalty, etc. At first I was a bit annoyed (because I was missing parts of the bout), but after a few hours together we were pretty chummy. We exchanged names, shook hands, the whole bit. There’s no way I would have been that friendly if I weren’t alone. I even thought about talking to someone who was across the aisle from me… but then my hands started sweating and I couldn’t bring myself to do it.
I view this as progress. I’m learning I don’t need to be extroverted to enjoy myself or to enjoy others. All I need is to be comfortable with me. When I mellow out and don’t think about being shy, I can engage with strangers… who become friends (for the moment anyway). I think I’ve been so focused on this fear of becoming a hermit (not even a cool recluse, but a hermit), that I stopped noticing the world and people around me. Tonight, I got to take a step back and soak it in. I also learned that I’m a damn good date. I don’t think I need to be so nervous the next go round. I mean, I’m pleasant, I apparently know how to make conversations with people I don’t know, and when all else fails, there’s always good food.