TABLE FOR ONE, PLEASE: The Case For Being A Loner

Being alone doesn't necessarily mean I'm lonely.

Jul 9, 2012 at 9:00am | Leave a comment

I've never been the most social person. As a young child, my mother once asked other children at a picnic if they would play with me. They obliged, and I tagged along even though I preferred the company of the adults.

To someone who was (and still kind of is) a particularly picky eater, the sights and smells of a first-grade lunchroom made for a seriously horrifying experience, so in elementary school, once I was old enough to walk home alone, I would go to my house to eat lunch. When I hit high school, I ditched spending time in the cafeteria (I shudder at the thought) in favour of an hour spent in the art room drawing and listening to music.

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Age 7 - happy loner.

I've always preferred my time alone to time spent with others. I get more things accomplished; I feel more creative, more confident in myself. I have time to think about the person I want to be and time to carve that person out.

Besides, there are so many activities that are just simply better done alone. Take shopping, for example. I do not have the time or patience for lollygaggers and dawdlers. At the same time, if I want to lollygag and dawdle, I should be allowed to do so without being heckled by a shopping partner. If I want to linger in Zara for 45 minutes, contemplating a pair of suede heels that I may or may not need, I am completely entitled to that without being bothered by the presence of another heavily sighing body.

Dining alone is another pleasure of mine. There are few things more enjoyable than treating yourself to lunch on a sunny day. You can get some reading done, you can take as long as you want to order, to eat. You don't have to let the person across from you try "just one bite." I even have a completely unfounded theory that tables of one get served quicker than those with larger parties. Whatever, these are the things I tell myself.

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If you're lonely, just turn the "Mirror" feature on in Photobooth. Boom, instant friend.

All of this doesn't mean I'm completely devoid of social skills though. Multiple years of working retail forced me to come out of my (seriously, horribly, painfully) shy shell and master the art of small talk. I can charm people of all shapes and sizes with my ability to talk about any and all subjects with ease. I'm not bragging, I'm just stating a fact that comes with working in customer service. I'm a friendly person. Deal with it.

I still consider myself to be my own best friend though, and there's no company I'd rather keep than my own. Aside from my immediate family, there are very few people I care to spend more than a few hours (tops) with. Parties and particularly long "hang-outs" leave me feeling stir-crazy and most of all, self conscious. I don't really like myself much around other people. After the initial charm of my niceties wears off, I feel awkward and annoying. I long to be alone, to be with myself. It's a bit odd, simultaneously loving and hating yourself like I do.

And so I retreat back into my world of loner-ism, and I perk up. I start to feel better about myself. I shed the feelings that others are judging me and I go shopping, I treat myself to lunch, I take a bath, I read, I paint, I watch a movie (no interruptions from the peanut gallery, thank you very much). I do the things I wouldn't want to do with anyone else, and I become a better person for it.