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.
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.