The stigma of being alone

When I was twenty, I went to a Katy Perry concert. At some point, while waiting for it to begin, I engaged in conversation with a group of girls and they asked me where were my friends or my boyfriend. I replied that I was alone and they looked at me with horror, as if I had just told them that I was a serial killer. “Why?” One of them asked in what was almost a whisper. I shrugged, smiled. “I wanted to come alone,” I answered. “But why?” Insisted another.

As if trying to help a strayed dog, they carted me along for some time until I had convinced them that I was not somehow brain damaged and that I was completely fine and enjoying myself without the company of known ones. Then, as if afraid that they would be infected by the same invisible social virus that seemed to possess me, they gave their excuses and scattered away.

That was the first of a series of shocked reactions that I got over the years whenever people realized I was alone in a restaurant, movie theatre, concert or wherever else. They feel pity that I have no one beside me – because I am a woman, I suppose. You won’t find it strange to see a man on his own, but a woman; dear God, what happened to her?

If you are afraid (or hopeful) that I will begin a feminist talk, I’ll have to disappoint you. I do believe that there is a lot of sexism involved in thinking a woman should never be alone and if she is, she is either damaged or has been rejected, but talking about that is not my objective here. The reason for why I wrote this text is to explain something about the stigma of being alone.

You see, it is only a stigma for the people who observe me, not for me. Because the thing is, I really like to be alone. Every now and then I feel fed up of people and take a day to myself. I read or do whatever else pleases me and talk to no human soul, and that is a great comfort for me. I love being alone in the same level that I love being with people. I would go as far as to say that I need the solitary time, even if it’s just a few hours every now and then.

I’ve met a few people like me and they all talk about how other people never understand the need or the enjoyment that exists in being alone, and how that can affect their relationships sometimes. Well, if you’re like me, then rest assured that it is completely normal and fine to feel the urge to be alone. You’re not weird for not wanting to mingle every second of the day. And if you’re not like me, then search in you the acceptance that human beings are different from one another, and that wanting to be alone is not a personal insult to you. Some can have social interactions 24/7 and be happy while others need the time to interact with themselves and no one else.

It is usually in times of introspection that wonderful ideas come. I love this blog, and it came out of an idea that was born and nurtured while I was completely alone in a foreign country (Budapest, for my birthday).

Alas, my birthday was a funny source of scandalized reaction. Nobody could understand why I was so happy with the prospect of traveling alone on my birthday, but you know what? It was one of the most amazing birthdays I’ve had so far. So you ask me: are you bothered that people don’t get your need to be alone? Not at all. It will always bother someone. I like to be alone and I am completely fine with it. Are you?

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