Alone at a Wedding

It’s official. My life has finally become a bad comedy for real.

Yesterday my friend got married. I was invited to the wedding sans a plus one, because I don’t have a significant other. But I knew that another couple from our old work place were invited, and I always got on with them very well, so I knew I would have someone to sit with, and talk to.

So when yesterday arrived, I got myself dolled up and drove an hour to the venue. I got there and gave my friend a hug (I’m not usually a hugger, but I made an exception because it was his wedding, duh). Then he said the words that made my heart sink. Our other work friends weren’t coming. I didn’t know a single other person besides the bride and groom. I was very much alone, in a room full of strangers. Aaaaand cue my social anxiety.

The ceremony was fine; short and sweet. The bride looked lovely in a simple, yet elegant dress of tulle and lace. The venue itself was a school camp, and despite my initial thoughts upon hearing that, it was actually quite a lovely spot. During all that talking, it was ok to sit there quietly, alone. Afterwards, whilst the bridal party did all the official stuff, another guest came to sit with me and we started chatting. As it turns out, her cousin actually runs the networking event that I attended a few months ago, and we had a laugh about a few remembered moments from the night in question. She was quite a character, and I enjoyed talking with her. But when it came time to go inside for dinner, she and her husband were seated far away from me, and I was put on a table with a bunch of middle aged strangers.

The meals were brought out – a serve yourself kind of deal, with roast meat and vegetables – but my stomach was churning and I was unable to eat. Which of course only served to draw unwanted attention, as people questioned why I wasn’t eating, and then cast sideways glances at me while they all conversed. I could read the looks on their faces, and practically hear them thinking how strange and rude I was. I attempted conversation with a few guests at my table, but none were particularly interested and I fell into sitting in silence.

My friend did come to chat to me a few times, but it was his wedding and he had many other people to talk to, so I didn’t want to monopolize his time. A couple of the groomsmen also came to chat a little, but for the most part I sat there very much alone, one of the few single people in a room of couples, and groups of friends. Am I glad I went, to celebrate the wedding for my friend? Yes. Did my solo presence stick out like the proverbial sore thumb? Absolutely. Was I acutely uncomfortable and anxious? You bet your ass I was.

Weddings are not traditionally events that one attends alone. They are a celebration of the very nature of being in a relationship. And there I was, sitting like the loser in every bad comedy you’ve ever watched. The only difference is that my actual life doesn’t come with that story arc and happy ending!

Honestly, it was a lovely wedding and I’m so very happy for my friend and his new bride. But I don’t think I’d be in a hurry to repeat the experience.

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On Being Positivity Adjacent, and Being Ok With It.

I am not what you would call an overly positive person. My brain is simply not wired that way. Part of this has to do with having a mental illness (depression, represent!), and part of it is because, on a fundamental level, it just isn’t who I am. I err on the side of pessimism, and I tend to find it a greater struggle, and much more of an effort to be positive and cheerful and optimistic about things.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this lately. A very good friend of mine has recently begun to immerse herself fully in a journey of self discovery, and she’s doing all the better because of it. I talk to her, and feel inspired to be better, to try harder, to push myself out of my comfort zone and throw myself into the deep end of human interaction and brand new experiences. And then the inner voice that lends itself to my decision making, reminds me that I don’t like people, and I feel uncomfortable in social situations, and that I am much happier just living my little hermit life. Then, for reasons beyond my understanding, I feel guilty about it. Why is it so hard for me to put myself out there? Why do I loathe the idea so much? Is there something wrong with me?

I’ve been asking myself these kinds of questions a lot in recent weeks, for a number of reasons. Firstly, there seems to be an influx of people lately, urging me to try dating sites, and to get out there and meet potential partners. And every time, I laugh it off, and tell them that I am happier on my own. Which brings a myriad of questions and doubts from the people trying to set me up. After all, it’s a truth universally acknowledged, that everyone else knows more about how you should live your life than you, the one actually living it. At least, they think they do. I’ve spent most of my life single, and the idea of dating is largely unappealing to me. But the major argument against this, is that I don’t know unless I try, and that I could be missing out on something great because I ‘cut myself off’ from any possibility of romance.

Secondly, I’ve been spending a lot more time on my own than normal, in my house, locked away. All the friends I made here are working in a job I no longer have, and I don’t know anyone else here. I’m still unfamiliar with this town, despite being here nearly five months, and my days off are mostly spent inside, or adventuring to other towns by myself. Again, the very idea of meeting new people is daunting. And, by the way, how do you even do that? I mean seriously, do people just approach others to strike up a conversation and end up with a friend?

I went to a networking event the other night, and the girl hosting it talked about finding your passion and rolling with it. Which sounds great in theory, but I don’t know that I’m passionate enough about anything to want to make it my job. All the women there seemed content to chat and plan and interact. And this is where I differ from the above mentioned friend. I think she took a lot more from the night than me, because she’s willing to be open to new experiences and to try new things. And I felt bad because I was acutely uncomfortable in this room full of strangers, and then I felt like I wasn’t trying hard enough, and that I had failed in some way. Why couldn’t I talk? Why did conversation make my throat tight, and my heart race? Why did I feel a little relieved when the headache that had plagued me all day intensified to the point where I couldn’t stay?

What I’ve come to realise, amidst all these self doubts and existential questions, is that whilst I may not be as socially outgoing as my friend, I do have an inherent curiosity, and thirst to learn more about…well, everything. I too am open to experience, and discovery, and knowledge. Just not with other people. And there is nothing wrong with that, and certainly nothing wrong with me. The fact that positivity doesn’t come naturally to me, is not necessarily a flaw. It is nothing more or less than a quirk of my nature, a part of my genetic makeup, if you will. It is me, and I’m good with the person I am.

I know what I want to do with my life. I want to adventure places, see the world, be inspired and create, in any way I can. But career wise? I got nothing. Romance? I’d prefer not to. People? Thanks, but I’ll pass. And whatever I may do, it isn’t likely to be with rose colored glasses and a positivity hat. But with pragmatism as my super power, I’ll do just fine.

The Altered Reality of Hospitals

Hospital waiting rooms are like small universes of their own. Everything seems slightly removed from reality, like the real world is there, just slightly beyond the veil. When you look around, there are people being supported and comforted by their loved ones. Each all in the same situation, each suspended in an endless moment, each waiting for something to happen. It’s a strange thing, sitting in a waiting room alone, surrounded by groups of strangers. When you spend so long doing things on your own, you sometimes forget that not everyone works by the same solitary rules.

When people get fired from their jobs, they take ‘support people’. When people go into hospital for admission, they bring along someone to be there for them. When people travel, the go in groups, or with friends. But not all people.

Humans are companionable by nature. There is an inherent, unexplained need in us to be with others; to interact, to seek comfort, to feel less alone. But being alone can become a way of life, so ingrained that it becomes almost impossible to comprehend the idea of other people coming into that singular, solitary circle. Sometimes, asking for help is too hard, because you become so used to relying on yourself, that you forget to trust others. Sometimes, you consider trying to break that habit but you get too scared, and really, isn’t everything easier on your own anyway? And sometimes, you end up crying silently in a hospital bed, because you realise that it’s not always easier, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Hospitals are weird, man. It’s that whole altered reality thing that brings secret things into sharp, scary focus. Or maybe it’s all that too bright lighting, and clinical atmosphere that changes things. There’s the lost time, when you’re present in body, but not in mind, and you’re poked and prodded and exposed to strangers in lab coats. There’s the knowledge that hospitals are a place you go to be healed in some way, but the fact that the healing is a by product of the pain that gets inflicted to treat The Thing you’re there for. Whatever it is, there’s something about those places that just creeps me out. And it’s one of the few times when doing things on your own can be the greater of two evils.

Being Happy and Single Are Not Mutually ExclusiveĀ 

When I tell people that I’ll be single forever, most of them scoff or laugh. Others just put on their best pity face and say things like “oh don’t be like that, you’ll find someone one day.” as if being single were the worst thing in the world. Weird how that’s the general consensus, huh? I’m sure we all know that person that seems content on their own (*raises hand), and yet that person is judged, even if it’s only silently, by the people in relationships, and the ones who can’t comprehend being happy without someone else. Don’t get me wrong, if that’s where you’re at and it works for you, I think that’s fantastic. You do you, buddies! It’s just not necessarily for me.

What is it that scares people so much about being alone? Is it something inherent within them that tells them they need to be with another person? I’m sure there are studies on this, where medical professionals and scientists have delved into the human psyche and biology and worked out the reason we crave companionship. But I can’t help thinking that this is, at least in part, to do with society and expectation. If you can’t get a partner, there must be something wrong with you. Because it can’t possibly be an active decision, right? I mean, to think that you have control over your own romantic situation is just absurd.

I’ve always been happy on my own. No, really. I balk at the idea of being in a long term relationship with a single person for the rest of my life, and yet similarly don’t engage in casual sex because one night stands don’t appeal to me either. I’m pretty much the worst at commitment, get sick of other people very quickly, and I’ve never been happier than when I was living on my own. 

Bar maybe one complicated exception, my ultimate plan is to move somewhere, get a dog for companionship, and spend my life travelling, creating, and learning entirely on my own. I don’t mean I’m not going to have friends, or see my family or anything like that. I simply don’t envision myself spending much, or any time at all, being with another person in the romantic sense. And guys? Seriously, I’m happy with that.

On Loneliness and Being Alone

I’m alone this week. I was alone last week and I’ll inevitably be alone for a few weeks more. You see, I live with my dad and he is working away for a while. He comes home on Fridays for the weekend but then he goes back. Thus, alone.

I first want to confirm that am ok with being alone. I’m not one of those people who can’t stand my own company, nor am I one of those people who is scared of being by myself. I mean, I’m a pretty rad dude so why would I not want to hang out with myself?! There’s nothing wrong with being on your own, and actually I quite like the fact that I have the house to myself. Not that I don’t love and miss my dad but its kind of like when I was young(er) and I stayed up super late to watch a movie after everyone else had gone to bed. There’s a kind of thrill to it…at least for a while!

Being comfortable with being along is why I am so content in being single. I’ve never felt the need to be tied down to another person (gosh, isn’t that a terrible way to look at it?), and have always been happy in the knowledge that I don’t need someone else to feel complete. I am perfectly complete as I am, thank you very much! But lately, I confess, though it pains me to admit, I wish (just a little) that I had a someone.

I’ve been seeing a lot of posts on facebook lately from a certain friend. I love this friend dearly, and don’t begrudge her a thing. But her recent posts are all about how happy she is with her boyfriend and how in love they are and how their lives are going well. And whenever I see them lately, a tiny part of me is curled up in a ball sobbing because I am alone. You see, currently I am a girl and in pain and I am sick and sleep deprived and emotional, and all I want is to go to bed and have someone’s arms around me. Because hugging yourself doesn’t quite have the same effect, you understand.

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No, disturbingly toothy child, didn't you hear what I just said?

I hate the fact that I’m being such a girl about this. As someone who identifies as a strong and independent young woman (*snap snap* mmm hmmm!), I feel like this desire for human contact is a folly. Especially considering how I actually hate people and am not usually this needy. I am so agressively single – which is to say that I actually kind of revel in my independence – that the idea of needing someone else for comfort makes me feel a little…weak. I feel this way, despite the fact that I KNOW needing someone isn’t a weakness. It’s part of being human.

This will pass, naturally. It’s not so much a result of loneliness (because loneliness and being alone are two different things, and I am the latter, not the former) as it is my body’s current state of pain and sickness messing with my reasonable brain. Plus, it’s perfectly normal to feel like this sometimes anyway. But knowing that doesn’t really help how I feel at the moment. Damn this being a woman business. I’m chucking it in and becoming a man. Men don’t have emotions, right? *wink*