This is actually about the opposite of the song, All by myself.
When I was young I hated being alone, I have a large extended family, and grew up surrounded by people . Having a large group around you is perfect camouflage for the socially awkward, and I grew up using this like my comfort blanket. While of course you can’t take your family with you as you grow up , well not everywhere, you can simulate it. I joined clubs where I was be surrounded by the noisy and outgoing at school and university, and learnt tricks to make myself appear more social. Looking just over someones shoulder to mimic eye contact was, and to a lesser degree, still is a way I cope with groups of new people. I worked for big companies, and socialised in big groups.
Then I saw one of those, ‘things you should do’ lists, and felt quite smug until I saw the ‘go to the theatre on your own’ and ‘go to a music concert on your own’ entries. The thought of doing that, being on my own in a public place, not with the intention of meeting someone. No way.
Then one night I was dumped, I had tickets to see Viggo Mortensen read the Wasteland at the British Library, and 2 hours before it started my friend bailed. I wanted to hear this so badly, so I went on my own. I can’t remember the last time I felt so anxious , the sweat and the deafening heartbeat.
While it wasn’t the best thing I have done, it wasn’t the worst – but it did happen accidentally. A month later I booked myself a ticket to the theatre, and despite knowing that I could do it, because I already had, it was incredibly difficult. I almost didn’t go. I admit to throwing up at work.
But I am so glad that I did. I can’t say that I’m ever going to want to be the centre of attention, or I’m going to go on holiday on my own – but knowing that I can, and did, conquer one of my fears. That was a great feeling.
My goal for 2016, dinner on my own – voluntarily.