How To Be Alone, But Not Lonely: An Experiential Journey

July 28, 2011 · 38 comments

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We’re born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we’re not alone ~ Orson Welles

July 20th was my birthday. I turned 32. If someone could tell me how or when that happened, I’d be sincerely grateful. But I guess “Life is what happens whilst your busy making other plans”.

My birthday is usually a combination of sombre reflection and drunken debauchery; friendship and the occasional present. If I’m in love, then some goodness of the hot and heavy type thrown in for even measure. But this birthday was entirely different. I spent it pretty much alone.

Life in Bali is treating me well, and whilst I have 2 people I would consider friends and a handful of acquaintances; on my most special of days, every single one of those persons flaked on me. When I should have been in the throes of spa bliss, flower baths and hot stone massages, I was stressing out about what I wanted to do and who if anyone, would come and celebrate with me. I was on my mobile whilst in the flower bath!!!

As it stands, at 8pm as I was slipping into the beautiful blue dress bought for me by a friend back home, whom I know who have made every effort to celebrate with me. It was all too apparent that this birthday was going to be a solitary affair.

It would have been easy for me to imbibe in a beer or 3 and slip into bed alone, miserable and 32. Except I am coming to realise I’m made of extremely courageous, determined and unbreakable stuff.

I put on my frock, picked up my helmet and made my way to the destination of my choice. Deus Ex-machina in Canggu; all reconditioned motorbikes, surf boards and this eclectic shopping, dinning and live music experience that just seams to work. I drove the crazy ass quick, but stupidly dangerous way through pitch black rice fields, unnamed valleys and on roads that do not actually qualify to be called ‘roads’; they are that appalling!

I arrived at Deus Ex-Machina where all of Bali’s beautiful people and the strong hold of pre-pubescent ozzie kids, had gathered for the “We are scientists” concert taking place there that night.

So I sat in the midst of all this revelry and glamour and ordered a tasty but tough meal of ‘Thai style’ fish and rice and a glass of red wine which came chilled..grrrrr…and I ate. Alone. Whilst listening to the guttural vulgar-ness of the 2 girls sat at the next table and wishing I had duct tape for their mouths. I sipped my tres-expensive glass of chilled sour red wine; and thought of very little other than the fact, that despite all life has thrown at me, I’d made it. That against all odds, despite all heartaches and heartbreaks, I was sat in Bali, in hot pursuit of a life and style I truly desire, that aligns with my values and my dreams: living in integrity with who I am. Alone.

I then went to watch the band; the only black face in a sea of Caucasian and Asian beauty; swigging beer, talking loudly and manufacturing sexual liaisons with every trip to the bar. Perched on a wooden step, I lost myself in the band; tapped my feet, bopped my head, wooped at the badass guitar riffs or the fierceness of the drummer, and spoke to not one other individual.

In this crowd of hundreds I was entirely alone. A beacon in terms of my difference to the ‘average’, but a ‘no one’ in terms of the attention this difference attracted. I was starred at, but not spoken to. The band ended, I finished my second glass of chilled red and headed to my bike to begin the treacherous journey home. Not drunk, but alone, on the worst roads a woman in 4-inch heels and no flash light wants to be alone on, or a man for that matter!

To round this tale up, I went home and immediately put on skype where I called the people in London who I know love me and I cried, before telling them how much I loved and missed them. I caught up with family and friends I’ve not spoken to since I boarded the plane and went to bed with a blooming heart, confident in the knowledge that I was: where I was meant to be, being who I am, doing what I want; and that I was mastering the art of being truly alone.

Is there a moral to this story?  Well, I don’t know, I don’t want to’ moralise’. But it occurred to me that in order to live out your dreams, goals and hearts desires - you occasionally have to be willing to go it alone and stop being a Pussy Cat: He who has courage wins!

We can be alone, but not lonely. It’s not easy, but it’s possible. I’ve shared a few of the how’s, whys and wherefores (from my experience) below. I hope you’ll add your own experiences in the comments.

How to be alone but not lonely

My leaving party in Pai, Thailand. Alone but definitely not lonely. April 2010

  • You must like your own company

If you don’t like your own company and find interest and intrigue in your own internal and sometimes external dialogue (this does not make you mad), being truly alone on your birthday or any day, will be hell.

  • You must have confidence

Confidence is king. To dine alone in a full restaurant without so much as a book or cigarette for company; you must be sure of who you are and like that person. It’s ok to be a work in progress. I know I am.

  • You must have control of your ego

Female solitude can be seen as unattractive, scary, odd even. “Why is she alone?”, “what is wrong with her?”. Many will look but few will dare to venture across the line of your solitude to connect with you. Your ego can take a battering, “maybe I am not beautiful enough” you may ponder. This is bullshit. This is not about beauty, this is about confidence (there’s and yours).

  • You must have the desire to be where you are; over any other place

I would have still gone to this place alone had it not been my birthday. I wanted to eat there, I wanted to wear my dress, I wanted to drink red wine, I wanted to see that band. It was about my desires and no one else’s, so I went alone. Why should I have missed out?

  • You must manage your expectations

If you venture out of your comfort zone, you must be prepared to enjoy the outcome of that experience alone. If you go with the expectation of finding company, attracting attention and ending up the ‘life and soul’, you may well be disappointed. I’ve experienced this version of  ’being alone’  many times; where I’ve had to pro-actively make time to be by myself. They threw me a party when I left Pai in Thailand I’d made that many new friends. This was not my expectation, but is now a memory I will carry in my heart forever.

You have to ‘enjoy your own company’ to succeed in venturing out alone, and manage your expectations so as not to be totally overwhelmed; if you find yourself  ”drinking red wine on the wooden steps, all on your lonesome!”

So there you have it. The strangest, most solo birthday I’ve ever experienced. It was Stacey nee Jamie, to the power of none- and whilst it was not entirely ideal, I was able to smile and be happy through it. I have a few questions…..

  • What would you have done if all your friends had flaked on you on your b’day or you had no friends where you were?
  • Have you ever ‘flown solo’ on your birthday before?
  • How do you handle being alone, do you even like your own company?

If this post has resonated with you, please share this experience with others via Twitter and Facebook or any way you like. Let it penetrate the cyberworld, where whilst in front of our laptops we are alone, but never lonely?

It’s all love.xx

PS. I received flowers and a card from the two people I consider friends. I felt incredibly blessed.

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{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

Betsy Cross
Twitter: BetsyKCross
July 28, 2011 at 11:16 am

You seriously make me laugh with so much joy! I turned 50 on the 13th of July. I was so excited because that’s HALF A CENTURY! And I made it! I had a house full of people-6 of my 9 still live at home, and my husband. Nobody else. I didn’t want a cake. But they got one for me. Madeleine (9) painted my toenails ( http://twitpic.com/5qjh7t )- (the link probably won’t work), and then painted James’ (2). I celebrated in my head. The mood at home was lacking.
I thought I didn’t mind being alone. Now I’m seeing that I just love people’s energy. If I’d seen you sitting by yourself I know it would have taken a minute of wondering whether or not you wanted to be alone, but I would have sat with you and driven you crazy with questions. That’s what I do. My husband and kids just laugh at me. “Mommy! Stop it! You don’t even KNOW them!” “Now I do!” I say. I like to rejuvenate by myself near the water or in the quiet at 4am when no one else is awake. Otherwise I gravitate towards conversation. How else to grow and learn?
HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY!!
Betsy

Reply

Stacey July 29, 2011 at 10:41 pm

Hey Betsy sorry took so long to reply, things got a little nuts out here in Balifornia..as I occasionally like to call it. That picture of you and your little girl with the painted toes is so incredibly lovely. Thanks for sharing that with me. I like to talk, get me around the right people..throw some good food and wine into the mix and you can’t shut me up, lol. But I also love to be silent, alone, undisturbed and still…this is also sometimes what I need to rejuvenate and to learn and grow. Thanks for the birthday wishes..Ms Betsy

Reply

JQ July 28, 2011 at 12:39 pm

I’m not a big fan of being alone. I’ll be alone if I have to, I do things by myself regularly enough, but I hate being alone. I have to read or strike up a conversation with someone.

I’ve had some piss poor birthdays in terms of friends for many reasons, but I just restyled my expectations long, long ago so that my birthday meant a night out with the hubby. I have never been alone on my birthday, and I honestly hope that I never am because I would be completely pathetic about it.

Wish you had been here. We would have definitely gotten kicked out of a Wetherspoons.
JQ recently posted..Differentiation, the Snake Oil of Pedagogy?

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Stacey July 29, 2011 at 10:37 pm

Kicked out of whetherspoons for sure..we do a a pretty good job of nearly making that happen on a casual Tuesday night, lol. For the most part my birthday is pretty awesome, I’m developed less and less expectations towards them the older I’ve gotten. If I’d had to fly solo when I was 25, I would have been pathetic about it too, but after all that’s taken place this year..this seamed like the least of my worries. Thanks for getting involved, my LDN-USA home girl. I miss you man..need me some Jaque in my life.xxx

Reply

Stan Faryna
Twitter: Faryna
July 28, 2011 at 1:14 pm

OUF! Big hug to you. You can choose your attitude all you want and put on that brave face, but my heart goes out to you. [warm smile]

My turn to share:

I’ve had my share of sucking birthdays, Christmas, and other holidays. In all the years with my ex-wife, she never knew when my birthday was unless someone told her. My secretary or executive assistant, for example and that’s an embarrassment in itself. [grin] I got one birthday gift from her and not one Christmas present during the five years we were together. We were married for three. Anyway, that one birthday gift was chosen by my chauffeur. And he’ll never admit it, but I suppose she never actually went to the shop to pay for it. [laughing]

Like you, I made the best of it.

It’s one thing to settle in to a new place or thing. But don’t let it happen again and again. In fact, if it happens twice in a row, it’s going to happen again. And that would be something to worry about.

I appreciate you. And I wish you much happiness, love, and friendship. Sooner!
Stan Faryna recently posted..Are You Ready for Love? And Other Social Media DOHs. Faryna Podcast EP5. #nicheamnesty

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Stacey July 29, 2011 at 10:33 pm

Thank you for your compassion Stan and I will take it although on this occasion please know I really was ok…had this happened to me a few year ago this may not have been the case. What did you mean by this “It’s one thing to settle in to a new place or thing. But don’t let it happen again and again. In fact, if it happens twice in a row, it’s going to happen again. And that would be something to worry about.” and what did your chauffeur…sorry ex-wife buy you on that special birthday, I’m intrigued?

Reply

Valerie Perry February 21, 2012 at 1:56 am

Hey, Stan, no disrespect intended (I don’t think this is that kind of a website at all!), but as a man, you would never understand why any woman would want to be alone.. ever!

I decided when I was 35 to stop trying to live my life in other people’s eyes, especially my single friends, who thought I should be a bit desperate at not being married by 35! I found that really sucked.. not the being single part, but being made to feel guilty about being single, and alone! I started cultivating opportunities to be alone.. taking trips alone, taking flying lessons, taking art history or language classes.. Really just to be alone.. I am going to be 50 next year and never went back to being on that crazy treadmill of feeling like I needed to be married or at least in a relationship.. I have had several relationships with men since then, all of them ending in a nice comfortable friendship, but the truth is I really could not wait to “get back to my life” and the things that mattered the most to me.. one of my best friends’ husband asked why I never married.. I am a pretty decent looking person, after all.. When I asked my friend what she told him, she didn’t answer and couldn’t even look me in the eye.. I never did get an answer to that one! I laughed so hard because the answer she gave him must have been a good one! I live with my dogs, so I am “Crazy Dog Lady” (my moniker for myself!) and I love my life. Is it perfect? No. Scary? Sometimes. I am really content, though in a way I never thought possible.. I love that you are doing everything you want and living the life you dream of.. What a wonderful gift to have and I would wish that for anyone and everyone. Thanks for posting! I enjoyed it!

Reply

Stan Faryna
Twitter: Faryna
February 21, 2012 at 4:09 am

Valerie,

You pose an interesting question. Are we limited in our understanding of the human condition by our gender?

So you will never truly understand Aristotle, Shakespeare, or Thomas Aquinas? And I will never truly understand Elizabeth Barret Browing, Karen Horney, or Maya Angelou ?

Is that what you are saying? [warm smile]
Stan Faryna recently posted..Social Savvy: The Rule of Four, Three Questions, Either/Or, and Pinterest

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Valerie March 18, 2012 at 2:58 am

Not at all, Stan.. I’m just recounting more times than I can remember when I was alone in an airport looking at a magazine, in a restaurant reading a book, sitting in a park, etc. when a man came up and started talking with me.. nothing wrong with that, of course, but there is a point very quickly in the conversation that you realize if you are a woman and you are seen alone, you are seen as lonely and, therefore, in need of a man’s company.. I don’t have this kind of “interference” from women..

Let’s face it, Stan, you don’t mean anything by it, I am sure, but the following:

“OUF! Big hug to you. You can choose your attitude all you want and put on that brave face, but my heart goes out to you. [warm smile]”

.. proves my point pretty well. A woman alone is “obviously” in dire need of (a man’s!) company..

Reply

Riley Harrison July 28, 2011 at 3:35 pm

Hey Stacey,
I admire the honesty of your blog and wish you the best in understanding what you need and hope that you find it. You have a lot to offer and share with the world.
Riley
Riley Harrison recently posted..TIME FLIES BUT ARE YOU THE PILOT?

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Stacey July 29, 2011 at 10:31 pm

Thank you Riley, sometimes I worry whether I put too much out there, and then I just listen to my heart and say what is the most authentic to me..I’m understanding at little a more about what I need each day and trying to share the little that I know about life with the world…it’s fun a project of passion. Thanks for saying hi…hope your well : )

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John Kowalski
Twitter: babacita
July 29, 2011 at 10:13 am

Great post and very insightful, thank you for sharing!!! Reminded me of this video I saw some time ago – “How to be alone” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k7X7sZzSXYs
John Kowalski recently posted..Here I Am

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Stacey July 29, 2011 at 10:28 pm

Hey John glad you liked it, and thanks for sharing that video with me. Thanks for stopping by my fellow tribesman

Reply

Adrienne
Twitter: adriennesmith40
July 29, 2011 at 1:59 pm

I’m truly sorry you had to spend that special day alone because you did have plans with others but I can also tell you are a trooper. Gosh we are so much alike.. Why couldn’t I ever find a girlfriend such as yourself to hang around with.

Okay girl, here goes… I will be spending my birthday alone as well. Like you, I’m very comfortable in my own skin and like you, I go out and do things all by myself. Actually, last year on my birthday I took myself out to hear a band I wanted to all by myself.

I do have family and friends nearby and I will have dinner with my Mom but not on my birthday. So I am blessed to have wonderful people in my life but I do spend the majority of it alone. And I’m perfectly fine with that. I do love and enjoy my own company. I’m that woman sitting across the room by herself too! I’m just very confident and secure with myself. Nothing wrong with that.

I do so admire you that you can just pack up and move to whatever place you want. At your age I was not so carefree. Heck, I’m still not carefree but I do travel alone when I travel. But life is a joy and I have not one single regret. So live it up girl, you living an amazing life.

Now, have yourself a very blessed day!

Adrienne
Adrienne recently posted..How Did You Get Started Online

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Stacey July 29, 2011 at 10:28 pm

Hi Adrienne thanks for stopping by. I would like to think I was totally carefree, but I not, lol. However I did learn sometime ago, that waiting on others before you go do the things that you want to go do..often means that the things you want to do..don’t get done, lol. It’s great you have the courage to get up and go and experience life the way you want to, even if that means your on a solo trip, know one can take away your memories. Go Adrienne, your an inspiration

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Bill Dorman July 30, 2011 at 9:01 pm

Since I’ve had a few more birthdays than you, I have had a few opportunities to have solo birthdays. I know when I was in the Army it was the first I had been away from my family and had a couple of birthdays during that time. The flip side of that, on one of my milestone birthday’s it seemed to be a week of party’s; it was pretty cool.

But with you being in a new place I’m sure it made it seem really lonely.

I can keep my self occupied; I don’t know if I’ve ever felt lonely per se. Sometimes I like alone time.

Thanks for sharing this; sorry you were rarin’ to go on your birthday and I wasn’t able to be there with you to celebrate.
Bill Dorman recently posted..Life as a splendid torch

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Stacey July 31, 2011 at 7:29 am

Your older than 32 Bill….nahh..get out of here I don’t believe it. I’ve felt lonely on many occasions in my life, but funnily enough this was not one of them. My main feeling was an immense sense of pride. I’m sure you were celebrating with me in spirit. To all intents and purposes it was a fantastic day. I worked out, had a great breakfast a wonderful spa session, then watched a band..alone, lol.

Reply

Carolyn@The Wonder of Tech
Twitter: carpathia16
July 30, 2011 at 9:25 pm

Okay, Stacy, my comment is going to be much different from everyone else’s. I’m not going to tell you how sorry I am for you. I am going to congratulate you because you had the most awesome company in the world: You!

So many people see being alone as a failure to be with friends. Instead, they should view it as an opportunity to be incredibly selfish! Go to your favorite restaurant. Stay in and read your favorite book. Listen to your favorite music. No need to compromise!

When I graduated from university, I planned a summer trip to Europe backpacking with a friend. Right before we left she ended up getting a job that wanted her to start right away so she could only stay in Europe for two weeks. I could either go back with her or travel by myself. Of course I chose traveling by myself and quickly discovered the joys of traveling alone.

First, people befriend you when you travel alone. People will strike up a conversation with you more than if you’re with someone else.

Second, you can do exactly what you want to do. I love quirky sites so I was able to visit the catacombs of Paris without anyone complaining they wanted to see the Eiffel Tower first.

Third, you gain confidence that you can handle anything. Because you have to, there is no one there to get you out of difficult situations.

So congratulations, Stacey, on spending your birthday with the most wonderful person in the world! Who knows? You may just decide to make it a tradition! :-)

PS I suggest bringing a book along when dining alone. Otherwise, there is no where to point your eyes. ;-)
Carolyn@The Wonder of Tech recently posted..Tech-Knowledgy: Nintendo 3DS Price Drop, Deleting iPhone Photos, Kindle Gifts

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Stacey July 31, 2011 at 7:18 am

Hey Carolyn.. I think you may be one of the few people who actually get the emotion I was feeling. Maybe I didn’t express myself well as it does seam that many people felt bad for me. But I did have the most awesome company in the world that night. Someone who never lets me down, understands me, likes my jokes, the same food as me, and wants to go where I want to be…ME! I have travelled alone extensively, usually by choice, and whilst I don’t mind having people along for a while, after a time I can’t wait to be alone again with no one to please or answer to but myself. I’ve never had a problem making friends when I’ve travelled alone, in fact at times its been the opposite..where I need to make time for myself, I’ve connected with so many cool people. I’m glad you backed packed through Europe Alone..I bet you had a totally different time than the one you had envisaged, and even though you don’t have anything to compare it to..I’m guessing it was probably better.

Ps..as for bringing a book. I made a concious decision not to. I wanted to be entirely present with me. No distractions, no detractions and no fear. As for having some where to put my eyes… the face of a hot guy..usually works perfectly well for me, lol

Reply

Farrah Scott August 2, 2011 at 3:13 pm

What a refereshing and wonderful post…Oh the joys of being alone or not in some cases. Yet I have found that so much growth and healing happens when you’re alone. It’s just like when your body repairs it’s self all alone at night in the dark as you sleep.

If you can alone-ness is a thing to face and embrace and utilise. If you can’t still try and face it and embrace it and utilise it…. It is through being alone we find God within… :-) It is then that whilst we are alone the concept of loneliness doesn’t even get look in.
Enjoy your own company; yes. Be confident in yourself for yourself because of yourself ;yes. Accept and embrace your aloneness; heaven yes!

Beautiful Stacey….Beautiful post xx

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Stacey August 3, 2011 at 12:21 pm

Hey Farah,…thanks for coming over. It was a pleasant surprise to see your name here ; )

The things we learn about ourselves in our times of solitude are life changing, life affirming and precious. Yet so many of us seek to avoid this time at any cost? This was my first birthday completely alone ever…it was about time I guess. Anyway I wasn’ t alone. I was with me and so was God. It was beautiful..xx

Reply

Susana August 11, 2011 at 6:29 pm

Hey Stacey,

For a long time, I had trouble “surviving” alone. I would be miserable without my family and friends . I actually tried to beat those blues by going on adventures, like that time I went to London to study all by lonesome. I thought it would be wonderful, but I felt miserable. I guess I was too young and too immature. I still treasure the experience, which lasted for about 4 months. I grew a lot.

Anyway, today, I have a different understanding with myself. I love my own company. Silence doesn’t scare me anymore. I love people. I still love my family and friends, but I also cherish my own space, my time alone.

You’re an amazing person Stacey. If I was in Bali, I would buy you coffee and share stories :D

xxxxx

Susana
Susana recently posted..Girl in a Bubble – Escape from the Comfort Zone

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Stacey August 12, 2011 at 2:42 pm

I’m glad you got to that place Susana, many people don’t and they spend their whole lives running from themselves and avoiding their own company. To be honest as a born and bred Londoner, I can attest that it can be one of the loneliest places in the world if you don’t have friends there, or the ability to make some quickly. But good on you for achieving 4 months, once again, that is more than most.xx

Reply

Krista Stryker
Twitter: kristastryker
August 12, 2011 at 4:16 pm

Oh, do I know how you feel.

I’ve spent most of my adult life moving every six months to a year – the longest I stayed anywhere was two years in Amsterdam (Holland), and of course, I never did learn the language so I didn’t have a lot of people to talk to.

Moving that often makes it hard to establish long term relationships. And while I consider myself an introvert and prefer to do most things on my own, it’s definitely hard at times knowing that even if I want to spend time near another human being, I don’t usually have anyone to call.

I guess all I can say is that you always have to remember there are people who love you – you did the right thing by calling them that night. Also, you did choose this path (as I chose mine) – and you obviously know deep down it’s what you want or you wouldn’t be there, even if it does get a bit lonely at times.

Anyway, great story, thanks for sharing it. And by the way, happy birthday!
Krista Stryker recently posted..8 Ways to Be Happier and Have Loads More Time

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Stacey August 13, 2011 at 5:32 am

Something about your comment made my heartache for you Krista..not because you need sympathy, but because I have empathy with you.I moved a lot as a young adult, not as often as you, but to different areas of London, different schools colleges, jobs etc. I never seamed to stay anywhere or with any one set of people for a very long time. So as it stands by circle of long standing close friends is incredibly small. However I would say I am more of an extrovert. Can I ask why you moved so often and why you prefer to do most things on your own?

Reply

Krista Stryker
Twitter: kristastryker
August 13, 2011 at 3:29 pm

Well, I was just one of those kids who just wanted to figure out everything on my own, you know? Very independent, and also a nomad. So sticking in one place just never felt natural to me.

I did get married along the way, and also got a cat and a dog, so I’m never completely alone :) I am hoping this recent move to San Francisco will be a little more permanent… I’m curious what it would be like to establish some roots, since I’ve never actually experienced it!

Thanks for your reply, it’s been nice getting to know you!
Krista Stryker recently posted..8 Ways to Be Happier and Have Loads More Time

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Matt R
Twitter: 30vanquish
August 13, 2011 at 3:21 am

Hey Stacey.
You’re extremely courageous.
It takes courage to do what you want to do ALONE. People may think you’re arrogant, a loner, or any other misleading label but you’re doing what you want to do.

For me it wasn’t so much about travel. It’s about being me. When I’m me, the journey tends to go into the route that’s more alone. But thanks to this post, it’s like a calling to bravery.

Happy Birthday as well!
Matt R recently posted..Oxytocin: The Trust Hormone Isn’t Always So Trusting

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Stacey August 13, 2011 at 5:36 am

Hi Matt, it never occurred to me that people may think I am arrogant..but I think a part of me is definitely a bit of a loner and always has been, although the flip side of that is in pretty outgoing and sociable sort of person. Can I ask for you to clarify what you mean when you say ” when I’m me, the journey tend go into the route thats more alone”..I’m really intrigued by what you mean by this.

I’m glad this post was a call to bravery for you…this was my intention

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Matt R
Twitter: 30vanquish
August 13, 2011 at 11:57 pm

Hey Stacey,
When I’m myself, sometimes that route may be the road less taken (the one with less people) because I’m being me.

It is a call to bravery. I could feel the courage!

Many extroverts can see it as arrogance or being rude (only because they don’t know how it feels to be more reserved. It happens)

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Stacey August 14, 2011 at 10:07 am

I always wondered what it felt like to be a more introverted person, but never saw these types as arrogant or rude, just quiet reserved and usually when they do speak… you listen as they tend to be rather wise. Thanks for sharing Matt

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Carol Dekkers
Twitter: caroldekkers
January 24, 2012 at 12:43 am

What an honest and refreshing post!

I had an almost entirely solitary 49th birthday a couple of years ago when both of my grown children forgot my birthday until the following day, none of my 4 siblings (3000 miles away) remembered, my best friend called to tell me she was going away for the weekend with a woman who can’t stand me (and she forgot to wish me happy birthday). I had lunch with one friend (who made my day) and then went out for a solitary glass of wine at a local eatery. When I returned home, my mother (also 3000+ miles away) called to ask how my children and friends celebrated my birthday… when I responded that all but one forgot, she paused then told me that I was obviously not “praying enough” to have that happen to me. For the first time in my life, I realized that I could survive being alone, and calmly (through muffled tears) told my mother that I couldn’t talk to her further, thanked her for calling and hung up.

For me, it wasn’t so much a matter of being alone (I live a fairly solitary life as a single middle ager), but more about the fact that those who were in my life simply forgot or overlooked me. Since then, I remind my children when my birthday approaches (they felt almost as bad as I did in retrospect) so that the situation does not repeat.

As far as being alone – I believe that our upbringing and our western society unfairly emphasizes the importance of being in a couple (despite a 49% single adult stat in the USA in 2011) and having lots of (albeit fake) friends. I am learning how shallow this supposition can be and now appreciate that life alone does not have to be lonely.

Wishing you ongoing success and happiness no matter where you go!
Carol Dekkers recently posted..Tolerance for Divas? Not on my watch…

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CherryBerry May 7, 2012 at 12:18 am

Hi Stacey,

I loved this blog, because it caught my attention when you said your birthday was July 20 and you turned 32….same for me. Although I am not alone doesnt mean I dont feel lonely. Because I feel lonely with people around, it makes me want to be alone so I can at least enjoy the solitude in my own way. I was doing well for myself and then I let all these people back into my private space….scary part is I like to be alone, cause when I am alone I am not lonely…..your blog is great gives me some food for thought.

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Amrapali June 23, 2012 at 12:41 pm

My Birthday is also on 20th July and I spend year it with myself since so many years and I am turning 40 next month. the best company sometimes is our own.Still trying to learn the art of being alone.

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Tim August 16, 2012 at 12:47 pm

Hello all!

This is an art that I have yet to learn. I survived divorcing my wife some years back for her infidelity, but also surrounded myself with as many people as I could to never be alone. Then, a two year live in relationship that just ended has me back to square one. I’ll survive this, but I
see the same patterns emerging. I like being in a relationship, I dislike dating. I enjoy the security a partner adds. I will be honest from the start, but now I find myself possibly leading on women that I know I could never be truly attracted to either physically or emotionally…

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Sabina January 16, 2013 at 10:54 pm

Love every bit of it. It’s so true, gotta enjoy your own company first :) And honestly, being alone doesn’t mean you are lonely. I have seen plenty of people who are with a thousand people or in a relationship yet they feel the loneliest.

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Priscilla Bishop March 9, 2013 at 7:23 am

I like being in a relationship, I dislike dating. So congratulations, Stacey, on spending your birthday with the most wonderful person in the world! I grew a lot. Like you, I’m very comfortable in my own skin and like you, I go out and do things all by myself.

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Katie March 27, 2013 at 2:14 pm

Hello Staci! I just stumbled upon your blog via google, and man am I glad I did.

My birthday is coming up (April 5th) and I’ll be 20. When I was little (before grade 1) I had very few friends, and my best friend lived out in the country at the time so I didn’t see him often. However, I was so happy when it was my birthday, I felt alive and free despite being alone (I wasn’t alone, my family was there but when it was my birthday, I thought only about myself).

Years of conditioning later, I live with my sister and parents but my closest friend in the area is my ex boyfriend who broke up with me almost 2 months ago :( Doesn’t help I’m still in love with him, either. I spent my 18th birthday alone as well because I was recovering from jaw surgery but I remember feeling lonely… and as I write this, I still am lonely. But I’m trying to learn how not to be lonely.

I want to have fun on my birthday, I don’t want to wallow in self pity. For this birthday, I will remember this blog and do my best to work on myself (well I already began to do that but y’know) because as of this moment, I have no local friends (none I call much either, mostly Facebook chat..), no job, not in school til May, tons of diet restrictions, dealing with recent tragic events, broke and I feel very much in limbo. But I want this to be a turning point… where I can be okay regardless if I’m alone or not, or dare I even say, I want to be GREAT even when I’m alone.

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