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Doing things by yourself

Being confident and comfortable being alone

Our society prefers people to be part of a couple - two-by-two, just like in Noah's Ark. It is unnerved by singledom, in the female of the species more than the male, even more so when it's an active choice. Singletons find themselves on the receiving end of multiple negative emotions - pity, suspicion and false jollity being just three. What I find even stranger is this discomfort with singledom extends to coupled-up individuals who choose to follow an interest alone. What's wrong with them? Don't they have any friends? You can almost hear the questions whispered.

For the first three decades of my adult life, I missed out on many experiences, uncomfortable with being the pitied singleton, until fat, unfit and in my fifties, I stopped caring what strangers thought of me and started doing things by myself. Unexpectedly, I discovered the more I did things I genuinely wanted to do - by myself - the more confident I became. The more comfortable I became with being alone, the more people were drawn to me - which can be either a boon or a curse depending on the circumstances :o)

The thing with being alone is it's a very different thing to being lonely. Having discovered how lonely it can feel when part of a couple, being alone became less frightening. Allowing yourself to do the things you want to do can be very freeing. Sure, I generally carry a book or a Kindle, an iPad or a notebook & pen (and would advocate you doing similar), but I rarely find myself needing them. There is a vast pleasure to be found in giving yourself over completely to what you are doing, especially when that something gives you enjoyment. To be honest, in those circumstances, other people are an intrusion. Even now, I think carefully whether to allow anyone to accompany me to an art gallery. I love art, but the pleasure of viewing it can be vastly diminished by someone who insists on chatting away about mundane stuff while walking around.

Introverts have long known the pleasure of doing things alone and extroverts could take a leaf out of their books and indulge themselves in more alone time.

Don't wait till someone you know wants to go too, if you love films - go to the cinema, if you like music - go to a concert, if you like comedy - go to a live gig, if you like sport - go watch a game. Go for a walk, sit at a pavement cafe and people watch - try it, try it all. Some stuff you'll like more, some less. Get to know yourself better, be comfortable being with just you - for you are good company.

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