A few days ago, due to a chain of events I won’t get into now, I ate a salad alone in a car parked in the Whole Foods parking lot.
A while ago, this would have been really embarrassing to me. I would not have confidently stared down passersby as they walked to and from Whole Foods. I would have parked in a much less obvious spot. I would have constantly looked at my phone in an effort to seem less alone.
That’s really what always embarrassed me. Not eating a full meal in a parking lot, but being alone. I could eat as many kale salads as I wanted in as many cars as I wanted and not feel one bit of embarrassment as long as somebody else was doing it too.
For some reason, being alone is so embarrassing. I don’t know why. Maybe because it looks like we don’t have any friends or even acquaintances with whom to eat salads. Maybe because it looks like we are loners, and loners are inherently scary. Maybe because it seems against the natural order of things, to do something alone when we could be doing it with other people.
Humans are social animals. And sometimes being alone sucks. Like, a lot. When I was younger and far more insecure, I never wanted to be alone. Or at least, I never wanted to be publicly alone. Unless I was running errands, I never went anywhere alone. If, due to a chain of events I won’t get into now, I was faced with eating a salad in my car in the Whole Foods parking lot, I would have either hid in the backseat where nobody could see me or not eaten the salad at all, just to avoid the embarrassment of being alone.
That’s so weird. Why do we that? Why would I have taken such drastic measures without even thinking too deeply about them? Why is being alone so taboo?
Some of you are probably thinking that’s crazy? I’m happily alone in public all the time, this sounds like a you problem. And to that I say, good for you. But I know I’m not the only person who ever felt like this.
Luckily, as proven by the Salad Incident, I am getting over this irrational urge to always be accompanied. I eat salads alone, visible, in parking lots. I run around my neighborhood alone (this sounds trivial, but it was a Big Step for me). I have even gone to see one (1) movie alone in the theater. And it was a great movie I wouldn’t have thought to plan a whole group outing to go see, so take that.
Being alone in public still kind of scares me. It probably always will. But it’s not life-threatening. It’s not worth hiding in the car or, god forbid, not eating the salad. And sometimes, it can even be a little fun.
So go do something alone! Don’t ask anyone if they want to go do something! Just go do it! And together, we can lift the Curse of Public Aloneness!