Have you ever tried to tell someone that you had an engagement Friday night?
“What are you doing tomorrow night?”
“I’m going out for dinner and a movie.”
By that, they mean who’s going with you?
Try saying “Me.””Myself.” “I.”
Look of incomprehension. Then understanding. Then pity. Then the inevitable desire to “reach out.”
“We’re going bowling. Come with us!”
Why is it so difficult to understand that it might be possible to enjoy one’s own company?
Why can’t a person go for a dinner and a movie by themselves?
- If you tell people that it’s actually a planned outing, that you bought tickets in advance, they will refuse to believe you.
- If you tell them that it’s actually your own company that you’d prefer (politely, of course), they’ll fail to understand until you run out of nice ways to explain yourself.
- If you tell them that you’d rather have the evening to yourself, they’ll suspect that you have other motives which might be that (a) you’re trying to ace an exam on Monday or prepare for a presentation at work which you told them you were not too serious about or (b) you actually are going out with someone in which case they’ll hope to run into you at the movie theatre or the restaurant.
I wonder what it is that makes people assume that people who are sitting by themselves in restaurants, cafes, movie theatres, parks, even the library would really rather be with someone else.
People sitting by themselves have to carry any number of things to justify their existence by themselves:
- cell phones pretending to text,
- e-readers pretending to read,
- laptops pretending to work,
- or be compelled to wear a contemplative expression on their faces staring into space pretending to think.
Or, they have to sit with any number of people to feel comfortable in a public space: a group discussing last week’s football match when they don’t even know the basic rules of the game, an acquaintance who might have a habit of talking incessantly about the nuances of the relationship between their two cats and one dog, pretend to like a drink that their companion sitting with them orders at a bar or even talk to a motivational religious speaker who may approach them at a cafe (they frequently approach me).
Even words like “solitude,” or “solitary” which used to have positive connotations aren’t used much anymore. They have acquired somewhat of an elite status nowadays to be pushed aside by words like “loneliness,” “withdrawal,” “alone” etc. Even “alone-time,” a poor substitute for “solitary,” has a status of privilege, as something out of the norm, not for everyone.
You have to take out “me time” (or go meditate) if you want to be by yourself–the prefix “me” implying “time” by nature belongs to company, not you. Even the English language is now burdened with a stigma against people enjoying themselves by themselves.
Why can’t one go out for dinner and a movie by oneself and brag about it?
Why is it a paradox to want to be social by socializing with yourself?