Mastering Aloneness

The Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
I remember when I decided I was going to Paris. It had always been my girlish dream. I had studied French for 7 years at high school, studied the greats like Camus, Mauriac and Sartre, studied European History and just had an overall lusting to visit Paris and  bring to life all these amazing moments I had so far only experienced in books.

I was young, had no major commitments, had a good job and could afford to plan this trip of a lifetime on my own. It was my single girl adventure. I bought a French CD to brush up on what was then my horrible French - the result of neglect and lack of practice after high school. I would plop it into my CD player in my car and while baking in rush hour traffic, I would perfect my accent and have conversations with Claude on the CD. I booked my hotel, my ticket on the Eurostar, bought my guidebooks, my maps. I was so ready! I was excited.

I told friends and family about my trip. The responses were not dripping with excitement. Instead I got a lot of this:

"What? You going Paris by yourself??"

Ummm...yes. What was wrong with that? Apparently, plenty!

On my mum's side, she was more concerned about my safety. This would have been my first trip to anywhere without a buddy, or a family member or friend as host. She had already conjured up these images of me being robbed, kidnapped, and worse.

Musee d'Orsay, Paris, France
"And what about the language? You can speak French?"

This is the lady who supported me throughout my academic life, bought all my textbooks and should have known better. lol.

But the others were not as concerned by my safety as they were by the idea that it was simply unheard of to go anywhere alone, and worse yet, a city like Paris. Travel? Alone? What kinda thing is that? None of your friends can go with you? This is why you need a mister.

And I do admit, Paris is a romantic city and it's the kind of place you want to experience with a loved one, but if I had to wait for Mr Right to make that trip, I still would not have made it to Paris. I would still be sitting here, dreaming of all that could be, could have been and never may be.

Le Sacre Coeur, Montmartre, Paris

So when I ran across the book, Solemate: Mastering the Art of Aloneness, I thought, that is a great title and I am sure it is also a great read.

The book:
Mastering the art of aloneness is about having a good relationship with yourself. It’s about becoming the person you were meant to be, treating yourself well, and shedding the old beliefs and behaviors that limit your ability to live a healthy, happy, satisfying life – with or without a partner...(read more)

My life:

I think I have been very successful to date at mastering my aloneness, i.e. having a life without the burdens of what if, I wish, why me and so on. I think my family and friends have also come to terms with this and some are actually quite envious that I can just pick up myself and just go, without feeling self conscious or pathetic or without feeling the weight of any social conventions on my shoulders. My uncle always tells me each time I announce some new adventure, that I am so brave. I'm not really, but I am not willing to sit around feeling sorry for myself either.

Sure, I would love even more to have someone to share all these experiences with, but in mastering my aloneness, I also feel pretty secure in doing things by myself. If I want to do something, I don't wait...I just do it. I go to the movies alone when I really want to see a movie and noone else wants to, though some people look at me in horror when I say that -like, how could you do that?

If I am hungry, I have no qualms about asking for a table for one. I mean, convention would probably prefer that I catspraddle, dry-mouthed, in the middle of the road from starvation rather than enjoy a great meal by myself.

I have been witness to many nightmarish relationships, born out of fear of being alone...fear of not having someone else to "complete" one's being. That is one of the lines they peddle to single people to make them buy into bad relationships, stress and unhappiness, instead of enjoying life while waiting or looking for a good relationship, bliss and contentment - this "complete me" dotishness. It is very possible to be complete without the mister.

My glass is pretty full...and extremely good.
There are so many experiences I have enjoyed because I decided I would enjoy them, no matter what anyone thought. It's not about being fearless, but it's about loving yourself and taking care of yourself - treating yourself to...well, life. It has changed me in a lot of ways as well. I've learnt to be more outgoing, I talk to more strangers (shhh....don't tell my mother) and thus meet new people. I walk into pubs here and just talk to people...though in London, that can sometimes be like the kiss of death, or at least a reason for them to call the madhouse for you. But, I am more self-sufficient, braver, more outgoing and pretty much a solo superstar.

I don't feel I need to buy a book at this point of my life. It may be a good read, but I have lived as well. I really try to look at it now, not as a glass that is half full rather than half empty, but it's a pretty damn full glass. A daiquiri glass at that...with yummy strawberry daiquiri and 2 plump strawberries, waiting to be loved and devoured. Mmmmm.

41 comments:

  1. I love this. I also end up doing a lot of stuff alone. I have a mister but, his railroad work schedule mixed with his military commitments = LOTS of time without him around.
    There are some things that I actually PREFER to do alone. Shopping... I LOVE to go alone. Movies... albeit not ALL movies, but I really like to go by myself! And I really like eating in restaurants alone too... esp when I get to take leftovers home to snack on BY MYSELF later! ha ha!

    Kudos for being so chill about being a party of one. I'm WAY jealous of your trip to Paris. I took 7 years of French in school also... and have never been! Sacre Coeur... I LOVE the photo you posted. So beautiful!

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  2. I need no reason to shop and no buddy. I am very happy to walk around a mall, all day...BY MYSELF. LOL.

    Mind you, once my friends are available, I love being with them and doing stuff with them. But if not, and I really need to get out, I do. And I am happier for it.

    I hope you make it to Paris soon. It is a city that I think is incapable of being cliche.

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  3. I used to be very good at doing things alone - I had a LOT of experience! - and am finding I'm more and more able to do it again (cinema, shopping and restaurants solo? No problemo!) Life is to be lived, as well as shared (eventually), and VERY jealous of your Paris trip [starts saving now...] xxx

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  4. It is so funny you posted this. I have recently came to the conclusion that I need to become more comfortable doing things and being by myself. I find that I am missing out on a lot by always thinking I need to have someone with me whenever I go somewhere or do something. My new mantra is "Travel Light, Travel far." I'm working on it! Thanks for mentioning the book. I am definitely going to download it!

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  5. Love Paris and hubby told me today that we would like to go again even if we were there already once this year and each year as well!

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  6. I like that - Travel Light, Travel Far. It is so true...the more we let go, the more we can achieve. We often are our own worst enablers of stagnation. Let me know how that book was!!

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  7. This is such a fantastic article. I agree 100% with everything you said here. I think so many women settle with shitheads because they have a fear of being alone. They prefer to get treated like crap just to say, "This is my man". If more women embraced who they were, they would not be so desperate to huddle down with some idiot. They would recognize their worth. Keep it up. Love this blog.

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  8. I LOVED this post! You are so right! You go girl! Why should you put your life on hold waiting to meet Mr Right? (who may never arrive). Go out, enjoy yourself, experience things! And if you do end up meeting someone special, you would be a hell of a lot more interesting as you WOULD HAVE LIVED!

    I went until age 25 without a boyfriend and then married my 1st bf! But I knew I had made the right decision as I knew exactly who I was and what I wanted and at that point I decided I wanted to be with him! I feel very strongly that if I had attached myself to someone earlier, they would have most probably held me back from my dreams.

    Pro Diva I love your mantra too!

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  9. Thanks girls. I think I am readier today for whatever God has in store for me, than I was 5 years ago - for sure. I have grown in leaps and bounds and it's great to look back and say "yeah...I have evolved!" And if the mister does not turn up, well...plenty things to do still! I have more yesterdays than tomorrows, so have to make them count.

    I think ProDiva should start selling t-shirts with that mantra. I would buy one...once it's a cute t-shirt!

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  10. Your post has come at such a great time. I am getting over a three year relationship that was originally born out of my own loneliness and lack of self esteem. It wasn't a healthy relationship from the beginning. I'm still mourning the loss of someone I care a lot about, but I'm also slowly beginning to move on. This post gives me hope and sense of purpose. Thank you for sharing.

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  11. Wow. I am glad that somehow I was able to help. And I am happy that you are moving on. As ProDiva said above, Travel Light, Travel Far. Don't let anyone hold you back. Enjoy the ride!

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  12. I grew up in an atmosphere of aloneness and am very comfortable with it. I married in my mid 30's and then had a bunch of kids. So much for aloneness! I do crave it sometimes but it's so hard to carve out that space right now. Enjoy your delicious glass! And do be scared by us moms and our hard drugs and booze... most of us are just joking ;-)

    LOVE, love, love Paris! I have a tabbed page about our family's trip last April. We go every chance we get!

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  13. I think everything happens in its time and I am sure you have no regrets. Your kids obviously bring you great joy...hard booze and all. lol. You mums are so funny. lol. Thanks for stopping by.

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  14. Great attitude! New follower from Sunday Funday!

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  15. :-) I studied abroad in Paris when I was 20 and totally single. It felt lonely at times, but there is something about being free to do whatever strikes your fancy at any time while you're there. Many years later, my husband and I spent two weeks there...it was a great trip, but definitely not the same!

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  16. I cherished my aloneness between my first and second marriage. I learned so much about myself during that time. Enjoy your glass!

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  17. Wow. I'd never be able to do that. Jumping on a plane to a faraway land without anyone to go with? No way. I like to be alone for, say, a day. Then I'm ready for my family to come home! :)

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  18. I love this. I never did anything alone until I moved to NYC from San Diego when I was 23. I went alone and didn't know anyone there. I quickly learned to enjoy dinner and movies and museums and tons of other things alone. I made friends, of course. But I still enjoy doing things on my own. I spent about 3 days alone in Paris :)

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  19. i absolutely LOVE paris, even though i have spent very little time there. but i don't think i'd be able to go alone.

    but, i have been able to eat dinner out alone, and even go to a movie by myself once! once i realized everyone wasn't looking at me like i thought, it was pretty nice.

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  20. I think it's great that you were able to travel independently and not let anyone discourage you. I've never traveled solo, but I'd like to think that I could do it if the opportunity presented itself. This book looks like a great read, thanks for sharing! ;-)

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  21. Well, you know that I love absolutely EVERYTHING about this post, yes? This always strikes a nerve with me. A friend once told me that in order to have a healthy relationship with someone else, one needs to have a healthy relationship with oneself first. And I think this is so true. There is nothing wrong with going to the movies alone, or eating alone, or even traveling alone. Paris is a wonderful city (Sacre Coeur happens to be my favorite place in the world) and I'm glad you had the chance to experience it and enjoy it in all its glory.

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  22. I do struggle with doing some things by myself. Tonight I went to a happy hour by myself for the first time. I felt very out of place and like people were wondering why I was there. I hope to feel as comfortable as you.

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  23. I tried to post a comment before, but I'm not sure if it went through.

    I used to have a really hard time doing things by myself, but learning how to fly solo has been one of the most liberating parts of my adulthood.

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  24. this is inspiring.

    I am also a single person who doesnt mind doing things alone, but have been hindered in traveling because I was concerned with safety issues. and that was even traveling domestically.

    I think i will start there but i would love to go abroad!

    I am catching up... way late from #Commenthour 8/10 ;-)

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  25. Paris is the one place I really want to see!!

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  26. Love this! I traveled alone when I was younger and it was one of the best experiences of my life.

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  27. I've too have travelled by myself to far away places. Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Germany - and I live in Colorado. There's something freeing about doing it alone. My daughter lately went to Rome by herself - and she lives in California. It's just a different trip when left to your own devices. Loved what your wrote here - enjoy your daiquiri!

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  28. I must get out my photos from my trip to France from 15 years ago. Now I want to go back!

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  29. I was single for a long time, as a matter of fact I never even wanted to get married and then it happened and it's truly great because I married my BFF...But I look back and I can honestly say I really loved my time alone too.....I guess you can say I am just happy with being me. :)

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  30. You go girl! Your story about going to Paris by yourself sounds just like mine. Except, I went to Ireland alone. It was my first trip overseas. I went by myself planning to work there all summer. Instead, I ended up staying a month and touring around until my money ran out. It definitely taught me to be ok with eating alone and to be more outgoing with strangers (you'll do and say things when you're lonely that you would never do if you weren't). But being friendlier with strangers meant that I got invited over for tea, toured around with English fellows, and debated American viewpoints with a German guy over pub grub. All in all, it was a great experience.

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  31. I think it's awesome to be that comfortable with yourself. That's something I've recently learned, and I totally would have done just what you did. That being said, the last time I went anywhere alone, I came back with a mister... so... ::shrugs:: lol

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  32. Sounds like a good book.
    I was traveling alone in Barcelona and in Argentina, so I can fully relate to family be concerned.

    Congrats on you SITS day!

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  33. I love how you speak about learning to be comfortable being alone. I am in the midst of a divorce, and although I have a 2 year old son I am still learning what it is like to not have another adult around.

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  34. I love travel, and I will admit I love traveling alone. There is something freeing and terrifying about going it solo.

    Though I now primarily travel with my husband and/or small kids, there are times I miss being able to pick up and go somewhere if I felt like it.

    I'm grateful for those experiences and memories, and I'm glad you are, too.

    Happy SITS Day!

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  35. CATSPRADDLE! Excellent word usage! ;-) Aside from that, though, I had a few years where I had to do this same thing - become OK with being alone. Although in my case, having social anxiety, I am generally more comfortable being alone than being in a crowd in any case. I LOVE taking myself out to dinner (with a good book!), despite the often funny looks I get from hosts and hostesses.

    I credit my healthy marriage now with the work I did when I was single on being a healthy person alone.

    Thanks for sharing!

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  36. This is great. I have a boyfriend but often he has to work evenings or just doesn't want to do the same thing as me often. I love to master the art of alone time.

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  37. I love this post. I was raised as an only child and have no issues with doing things on my own, but haven't been brave enough to travel on my own.

    This is silly, but I want to take a weekend by myself. I don't want to go far, just to a bed and breakfast and relax for a couple of days. After your post, I think I can manage that.

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  38. I loved this post... well said! The first time I travelled to Europe I went by myself. I visited some friends in a few different countries but was on my own much of the time. I didn't really think about it until I got there, and people I met often had quite a reaction... "you're travelling ALONE??" After that I felt proud to have done it. Now that I have a boyfriend we are saving up to go to Paris together, but I'm glad my first visit was just me.

    I'm a little late, but congrats on your SITS day! :)

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  39. Great post. I became more alone than I realized when I got married so I'm sure I've mastered it by now. So much so that I only realized how alone I was when I finally separated from my husband. I had such a full life on my own, I didn't really notice how dead our marriage had become. I am dating myself even more now, lol, and I find that going to the movies alone is the best, no one to interrupt you,you can eat what you want and cry if necessary without being embarrassed (depending on who you are with of course).

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    Replies
    1. I so love this comment. Dating yourself. Powerful. I love it and everyone should do it, whether alone or coupled.

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