My niece told me she was afraid of being alone this weekend.
Wait, it’s not as dire as it sounds.
We were discussing her plans for a college internship when the topic came up. My sister was suggesting lovely ideas like Art Studies in Paris where she would paint still-lifes next to the Louvre while her sexy French boyfriend chain-smoked. My niece acknowledged that SURE, that sounded GREAT but the idea of doing it alone was kind of scary. The grown-up version of ME, who will never paint next to a chain-smoking French ANYTHING, wanted to grab her & shake furiously, but it’s an understandable concern.
Being alone IS scary. Especially if you haven’t spent the past 10 years of your life with 2 kids and 2 cats, who are usually camped outside the bathroom whenever you’re using it.
Being alone is scary, but you can’t let it keep you from trying something new.
It’s not that I’m NOT afraid of being on my own. I’m terrified that one day, after years of being alone, I’ll take my dogs out for a walk wearing nothing but a tank top and elaborate earrings because there’s no one there to stop me. Those who know me know that this is not only a possibility but also likelihood.
But I learned to enjoy being alone early in life and it was quite by accident.
I was a heavy smoker in high school. Yes, one of many talents I’ve had to abandon but during high school I LOVED to dine alone while chain smoking & reading books by writers I had no real interest in, like Voltaire or Dorothy Parker. I thought it made me look sexy & mysterious, or vaguely insane which was fine with me either way.
It worked out in my favor when I developed a taste for radio and had to travel from state to state for work, all by my lonesome. After months on end of dining alone, my poseur books were replaced by Anne Rice novels and my once sexy habit became depressing.
It might sound kind of sad but I’m glad I had those years because I learned that my own company was often better than the alternative. I never felt the need to stay with a loser boyfriend because I knew that being alone was better than being with an idiot.
It sounds simple but it’s not a lesson all of us pick up and if we’re not careful, we might find ourselves turning down a lovely trip to Paris. Then we’re spending another month with someone who’s boring, or another year with someone who doesn’t laugh at our jokes.
Next thing we know, we’re married to an asshole, all because we were scared of being alone.
So it might be worth it to pick up a pretentious book and strike out on your own occasionally, just to prove to yourself that you CAN.
And if you figure out how to stop the whole walking-the-dogs-without-pants-on problem, please fill me in.