Have you ever been in a position whereby you’ve wanted to go somewhere and literally none of your friends have been available? I’ve found myself in this position and I noticed that I was becoming highly frustrated with the limitations placed on my social life. However, I realised that these limitations were being placed by myself and not my friends. As I was single, I didn’t want to feel as though I had no social life because I did not have a boyfriend. Therefore, I decided that I would no longer be confined to the restrictions of someone else’s schedule or my relationship status.
If I’m honest I used to think to myself, why would anyone want to go out to eat alone? Let alone even consider going to the cinema alone. There is a perception that these confident types of people are sad and lonely. Well I’ve learnt to engage in these activities and I am certainly neither of these misconceptions. Through maturity I realised that it is an act of growth to push ourselves out of our comfort zones. When pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, it’s advisable to only push yourself as far as you feel comfortable. Below are a few activities that most people tend to engage in by themselves and that I have tried.
1. Solo Cinema
If it is during the week, I tend to book a showing between 6pm -8pm and I book a seat that is on the end of the row. This is more comfortable for me as once the movie had finished; I could make a quick and easy exit LOL. Also in the first instance, I don’t have to walk through everyone to find my seat. This still stands on the weekend except that I tend to only go to the cinema solo on a Friday. I usually pick a late night showing, typically the last showing between 10pm and 11pm. I don’t recall ever participating in solo cinema trips on a Saturday or Sunday, maybe it’s a conscious decision maybe it’s not, who knows. Nonetheless this is what works for me and surprisingly I enjoy watching movies alone. There was a period whereby many of my cinema trips were alone. I remember a friend asking why I didn’t invite her whenever I was planning to watch a film [pause]. I pondered on this and realised that I had become so comfortable with my own company that I no longer sought out the company of others as I used to.
2. Table for One
In relation to dining alone, I still find this difficult and have only done so on one occasion. I don’t think solo dining is something that is generally promoted within the British culture. The majority of our restaurants are set up for dining as part of a group. Have you ever been in the situation whereby you’ve found the perfect spot, whether that be at a Shisha Bar, Starbucks etc. and then you’re told that someone or a group need to join your table due to capacity issues? That is enough to make you feel uncomfortable (plus the eyes of pity descending) to make you never want to dine alone again! The majority of us work full time and therefore miss out on the perfect opportunities and serene times of the day when dining alone is a viable option.
However, this is something that I am going to work on more this year. The eating part isn’t the problem (I’m a foodie), but I realised that I’m still dependant on having company when dining in a restaurant. Nonetheless, when I need a change of environment, I am quite comfortable going to the local coffee shop with the intention of reading a book and sitting alone. I am also able to reflect and make decisions in this type of environment. A change in environment provides much needed clarity that we all need.
3. Admission for one (Events)
Book your ticket, I did! We all know that certain events do not come around twice and therefore why should we miss out on attending an event whereby we can learn, network and enjoy ourselves because we have no one to attend with? It can be quite nerve wracking attending an event alone, but knowing how London is:
1. You’re likely to bump into someone you know
2. People are not as scary as they seem and are very welcoming and willing to talk.
In settings of unfamiliarity I am a very shy individual (I know, I know, some of you who know me personally can’t identify shyness within my personality) but I know what I feel deep down inside. It’s just that I have become rather good at hiding this emotion over the years.
In summary, don’t purposely exclude your friends from joining you in social activities, but have it in the back of your mind that if they are unable to attend you will still do what you initially intended to do. Life continues and I am determined not to miss certain opportunities in life just because I may be scared to do it alone. It is important to enjoy your own company, ask yourself, do you like you?
You’ll be surprised that many people do not like themselves. They depend on the views and acceptance of other people and society but when you become committed to self-development your perspective changes. You start to appreciate yourself and your season, this is the time where you can do as you please and not ask permission of anyone.
Take care of yourself, because if you don’t who else will?
P.S. I would love to know what works for you. Are there specific places you’ve found that are perfect for solo dining etc. in London?
Photo: Taken by me at NOK by Alara, situated in Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria