Never be afraid to sit awhile and think. – Lorraine Hansberry
I took myself to dessert. After the week I had – I needed the space. I needed to people watch. I needed a dessert and a good glass of wine.
I needed to be alone.
Let’s get this straight – there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be alone.
Now, I know some of you are thinking that I wasn’t alone, and that’s true.
I sat on the outer counter of the double bar. It’s full service, and perfect for one person.
To my right were three guys in their thirties celebrating a birthday.
They were nice, but talked about sexual acts a little too loudly. I’m pretty sure they were with their girlfriends, but honestly, at first ear you wouldn’t have known.
I had brought my camera and when they noticed it they starting asking about it. They eventually asked if I could take their photo. I did and I sent it to them the next day.
To my left rotated three couples who had been waiting for their tables, engulfed in their cell phones and not each other.
JP and I are guilty of this sometimes – just like some of you, but we’re getting better. I want us to have less face time when there’s a meal between us.
So no, I wasn’t alone, but I didn’t have to talk to anyone but the waitress – who was fabulous. I didn’t have to look at anyone unless I wanted too, but I saw everyone.
Sometimes when I’m overwhelmed, it’s easier to be a body in a sea of voices that aren’t directed at me. This environment allows me to get lost in the noise, but yet I can pick out sentences of conversations. I smile when someone catches me and clang glasses when appropriate. I clanged glasses once on Saturday night.
This is another way I reset.
I reset by reading and ignoring the world. I reset by napping. I also reset by people watching and losing myself in a world fast pace.
I know for some people this would be nerve-racking. They’d want to leave, they would be overstimulated. Trust me I get that because if those voices were directed at me then I would be exhausted with response. I’ve talked about how tired I get at the holidays because of the direct engagement.
I would argue this experience on Saturday night is the opposite. I’m in the middle, but I’m not engaging. Since I have the opportunity to pick and choose how and when I engage, it’s less exhausting.
I know for others, they’ll see going out alone as a negative. But after four years of dating – the first two long distance and these last two years living with each, we’re still finding the balance of doing things together and a part. It’ll take practice, but on Saturday night, JP went to his parents house to get some car stuff done and I felt that sporadically going out for wine and dessert was a good way to get utilize some of my energy.
When I’m home alone, I have two choices – become engulfed in my work or find a way to step away from it.
If I stay home, I will find writing projects or things to read. I’m terrible at backing away from those two things. If there’s nothing that needs to be done, it’s easier for me to make plans out of the apartment. That’s what Saturday was.
I wanted to disconnect. I wanted to go out. I also just wanted a glass of wine, or two and some dessert or two. The camera in tow just made for a fun time because I’m learning how to use it. The lighting at this restaurant is also really interesting. I took about 40 photos. I listened to the sounds around me. I watched the TV above the bar for a few minutes.
As I’ve been practicing disconnecting, this environment on Saturday night reminded me about the book I’m reading about the connection of boredom and creativity. Going into the book, I thought I would look at how I use social media and digital connection differently, but I’ve been thinking about engagement in general.
The book evokes the idea that if we’re never bored we may have a hard time with creativity and innovation. If you think of ideas don’t just come out of life being perfect. They come from problem solving. But what if we’re never alone? If we’re never physically alone, do we ever really get the chance to reset and rest?
I stepped away from the bar and walked to my car ready for bed, but not exhausted. I slept well and felt like I could take on the next day. So, at least for a few hours I felt refreshed and ready.
I don’t feel that I need to explain how I cope anymore. There was a time when I definitely felt like I needed to give an explanation because I was nervous about the impression it gave.
I share it now because I want you to know that we all cope differently and there’s nothing wrong wanting to be lost among the people to find your calm. There’s nothing wrong with building a puzzle or coloring, there’s also nothing wrong with getting lost in hours of movies or the gym. Finding healthy coping mechanisms that bring us to zero so that we can charge forward again is important.