Some days you’ll play lonely games too…
One of my favorite authors growing up was Dr. Seuss. I loved the rhymes, the silly names and characters, and with a little deeper thinking, the morals and lessons he would weave into his stories. It wasn’t until I was in college that I got my hands on a copy of his final book, “Oh The Places You’ll Go,” a parting gift from one of my professors on the last day of class. The book ended up in a box with my tassel and gown but I never forgot the lessons the inspiration and motivation it gave me to help me through a broken engagement, starting a business, and the biggest and scariest adventure of all….growing up. In that book he talks about the decisions we make in life as well as the ups and downs that go with it.
Throughout my travels, people have often asked if it ever gets lonely being on my own. Well first lets look at the positives. There’s a tremendous feeling of freedom in being able to always call the shots. If you feel like sleeping in, you do. If you want to extend your stay somewhere (despite the extra money you spend) there’s no one to talk you out of it. Every turn, every step in the journey is entirely up to you. And I won’t even mention the people you meet along the way. In a world full of interesting, exotic, and sometimes a bit crazy people, you definitely get mixed up with many “strange birds as you go.” I am making friends from all over the world and getting to see much more as a result of it.
But then you have those days sitting alone in a restaurant, watching couples share a romantic dinner, or a vacationing family enjoying each other’s company and I can’t help but get a little misty eyed as I think of all the amazing people I’ve left behind. The more time passes, the further the distance grows, and I can’t help but wonder, if and when I finally do come “home” will anyone still be there awaiting my return? Yes it’s easy to make friends everywhere you go, but sometimes it’s nice to have that familiar face, someone who you don’t have to explain your life story to for what feels like the hundredth time. And even with so many ways to stay in touch now through social networks and Skype, with the time difference it’s not always easy to reach home when you not only want, but need to. I’ve gone what feels like months without speaking to some of my best friends, even my own mother.
I was having one of those moments just the other day. Of course when I called home I got the usual “we miss you, we love you” which helped, but what was more helpful actually was the dose of reality. Poor little me, here I was feeling all alone in Monaco, when anyone back home would trade places with me in a heartbeat. I was too focused on what I didn’t have, instead of what I did, which is an opportunity to explore and learn in a world full of amazing and wonderful people, and an opportunity to really and truly get to know myself.
Why is that we have had it engrained in us that being alone is a bad thing? I used to find myself feeling sorry for the poor guy all alone in the movie theater, or the girl reading a book by herself in a busy restaurant. And then I read somewhere that if you can’t enjoy your own company, then how do you expect anyone else to? Either these people have zero social skills and can’t get along with anyone (which if that were really the case, wouldn’t they be off hiding in their basement planning a mass-murder/suicide attempt?) Or maybe they just know what they want and like, and aren’t afraid to go out and do it, regardless of who is in their company. And how do they figure out what they want and like, if they never take that time alone to do it?
So what did I do to end this little pity party of mine? Well, exactly what I would do if I had my best girlfriends around. I hopped on a train to the next town, bought myself a new outfit to wear, sat myself in a classy restaurant for a good meal (and tried not to take it personally when the waiter removed the stemware and cutlery from the table to announce to the world that I was dining alone) and then stumbled on a wonderful little concert right in the center of town. In other words, I had a terrific date night with none other then yours truly. Awkard??? Mmmmm maybe some moments. Scary? (Ignoring the crazy guy on the train who I think was also “entertaining” himself that night if you catch my drift) but what would have been more scary would have been missing the entire night, and the new friends I made as I result of stepping outside my comfort zone. So, I guess what I learned from all this is that no matter where you are in the world, you have to embrace the lonely days too, and give yourself a chance to hang out with the one person who will ALWAYS be there…YOU!!
Which now that we’re on the subject, don’t be shy. We’ve all had lonely days, and we are bound to have many more in our life time. How do you cope with yours? You know the drill!