31 July 2017

The Stigma of Doing Things Alone

A few months ago I was sharing with someone two good movies I had seen recently. I also casually mentioned I went by myself.

The look I got back when I said I went alone was one if I had said I just kicked a puppy dog in the stomach. 

"Really?" he said. "I would want to find someone to go with, otherwise it would feel lonely to me."

I found myself recalling this conversation recently as I went somewhere nicer for dinner. Just me. 
It was relaxing. I had a nice glass of wine and brought a new book with me...between the people watching ;)

It seems sometimes in modern society there is an unspoken stigma of doing things alone: going to dinner, the movies, travel...anything really. 

If you are alone doing activities typically done in groups, it could be seen as lonely or having no friends. Seeing another person out and about on their own, doesn't equate with being a lonely heart or an awkward bear. 

Does that mean when I've been out and about on my own I haven't felt lonely before? Of course not! I'm human. But doing things by myself doesn't mean I deserve pity.

I am wondering if it is something on a deeper level. 

I wonder if people feel afraid to try and do things on their own because they're not sure what others will think of them. I think on some level we're all scared of being alone, of not being known and loved. To be known and loved are some of the deepest desires of the human heart.

In a world of endless distractions, it can be so easy to run away or avoid loneliness. Because when we're distracted all the time we don't have to face our "stuff" or be alone with our thoughts.

There are healthy and unhealthy ways to be alone. But being alone doesn't equate loneliness.

I've had to re-learn what being alone looks like in healthy ways. I used to avoid it like the plague. Now I see to be healthy in relationships with other people, I need to be okay being alone with myself.

Yes we human beings are social creatures. God created us with a inherent desire to be in relationship with each other. Socialization and being in a community are important needs for healthy, emotional development.

The world continues to move at a whirling pace. But if we want to be truly known by others, we have to first know ourselves. And we cannot do that if we feel like we're unable to do anything alone.

Take yourself out to dinner.
Go see that movie and eat the whole freaking bag of popcorn.
Don't worry what other people are thinking.



Do you think there is stigma of doing things alone in our culture? What has been your experience?
I'm really curious...


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9 comments:

  1. Going to the movies by myself is probably one of my very favorite things to do! I end up doing a lot of things alone by default because I live alone and I'm definitely more comfortable with it now than I used to be. If someone's not quite ready to eat out alone, I would say try eating at the bar first, it's a little less intimidating. And usually when traveling solo I'll book an afternoon tour or something - it's easier to chat with strangers when there's a shared experience to talk about. Ironically, the one thing I really, really hate is going to church alone! I still do it though :)

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    1. Me too Andrea! That is a great suggestion about trying to eat out at a bar first...I agree sometimes it is hard to go to church alone too :)

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  2. I love this-especially what you say about being alone with your own thoughts, I hadn't thought of that! It makes a lot of sense. (I have noticed, since I started running earlier this month, that it is really nice to have that time to be alone and think). When I started attending a school in 7th grade after being homeschooled, I didn't really "fit in" with a lot of girls in my class, so during recess and downtime in the homeroom, I would often read. Books are great company indeed :) In college, I would usually bring a book to the cafeteria with me, and if I sat with someone, awesome, but if not, it was nice to read and relax in solitude. Despite all of this, I was taken aback when one of my friends from high school said that she actually loves going to movies by herself-I guess in spite of my efforts to swim across the tide, I still was affected by social stigmas. Now, though, I totally get it (especially with a toddler-going anywhere alone is a treat haha).

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  3. I think there is a stigma, which is so ironic since we are the "bowling alone" generation. (Robert Putnam) I've always be inclined to do solo missions, but also appreciate the love and company of others when I'd like.

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  5. So beautiful and true! I've spent the past year working on being more comfortable by myself with the goal of taking a solo vacation in a few weeks. I'm amazed at how much you can grow in faith while working on being alone and happy. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. You go girl!! A solo vacation all on your own, and working on ourself is always I good idea I've learned personally ;)

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  6. Although I am married with kids, it was a long time until I felt comfortable going out to the movies alone in the evening after the kiddos were tucked in bed. I felt like people would look at me and wonder why I was alone. Thankfully I was able to get over myself and now going to an evening movie alone has become one of my favorite activities. :-)

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  7. I have been divorced for over 20 years. I do many things alone, often by choice. Yes, I socialize, have close friends, have gratifying phone conversations, and enjoy dinner with friends. But, I usually travel alone, mostly dine alone and go to the movies alone. After all of these years, it just doesn't matter to me. But, it took some time. It did not happen overnight. And I've made some very poor choices, mostly in dating, along the way. But, I am never alone, because I have Him. Would I marry again, after obtaining an annulment? Yes. Do I expect or assume it? No. Do I have crosses? Of course. Do I consider being single one of them? Absolutely not. Are everyone's desires the same? No, we are all unique, and that is how God made us. You, my lovely, shine like the star that you are. And that-is beautiful.

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