Photo by Kaylah Matthews on Unsplash

Table for 1, thanks

When was the last time you savoured a meal with the best company?

We live in a time, where 2 is normal, 3 is better, 4 is fantastic, more the merrier but 1 — that’s an odd one. You can easily spot these “ones” in cafés, hiding behind their laptop or chilling with a book by the beach, they run solo — the lone wolves of the world. Although they are equally comfortable in a social setting, they find vicarious joy in their own company.

I was fascinated by these hermits, their sheer enthusiasm to spend some time with themselves, while they toil away working on their next big idea, reconnecting with their lost art; they never felt overwhelmed by the lack of social plans. As a matter of fact, they made sure to prioritise solitude. Looking at these self-sufficient and utterly independent souls, I couldn’t fathom the idea of spending a whole weekend just by myself. The fact that I had got so used to being around people and succumbing to my extroverted streaks was unnerving.

The Capricorn in me came out, how can you not be good at everything? How can you not love your own company, lady? BAM. It was time to make a change. So for the last quarter of 2020, I decided to take up a challenge. On top of prioritising physical health, I chose to throw myself in the deep end by getting uncomfortable — eerily uncomfortable in social settings. And the first step for this challenge was to go solo. Whether it was signing up for the Pilates class or going out for soul-nourishing pasta, it was all me.

I did this challenge for a month, and here’s what I discovered about myself.

1. It felt awkward in the start:

My first experience was going for the Pilates class. Although it is a group class and not SO daunting, I felt that my body language conveyed the awkwardness. Showing up without one known face in the room was giving me the creeps. However, after a few “table for 1” dates and coffee sessions, it got easier. I would just rock up to the desk and announce my entrance with pride. It felt good. Weirdly good.

2. I could finally hear my thoughts:

When you are constantly surrounded by people, whether it is your better half, your parents or friends, it becomes harder to hear your internal monologue. I knew from the start my inner voice is a bitch but I never took the time to listen to it and correct it. Spending time with myself, journaling these thoughts and even recording my voice (yep, we went there) allowed me to use cognitive behavioural therapy on myself. I was rephrasing the voice to be softer, kinder and much more accepting to the situation instead of the constant negative nancy that won’t shut up! I started to pause before reacting and carefully listen before responding.

3. Fell in love with my city:

Combining the two challenges of becoming more active while working on my mental hygiene forced me to just move more often. I could go for a hike, long run, bicycling or even walk home from work. I would change my commutes and walk across different bridges that led home. There were times when I got lost despite Google Maps in hand (I am not geographically blessed, clearly) but I would still find a way home. This changed my overall perspective to being physically active in every way as opposed to dreading deadlifts at the gym.

4. Got in touch with old hobbies:
Before this challenge, my go-to social plan would be to hang out at a friend’s place with Netflix, junk food and a bottle of wine with a lot of whining. But since I couldn’t distract myself with vino (those calories add up, you guys!), I took up activities for 1. I fell in love with painting, got the dust off my kindle and started reading again, perfected the recipe of my best banana bread and shockingly, this whole process pushed me to write again! After the longest writer’s block, I am finally penning my thoughts to share this gratifying experience with you.

5. It felt amazing to always have someone say yes to me:

I hate rejections. We all do. We might have evolved but being rejected even on the lowest level still makes us feel like we are being ostracized from our tribes. Spending time with myself made sure there was one person who would always have time for me — who would always choose me —

And that was ME. I was finally ready to take on the world, the fact that I might be entering 27 as a solo successful not adhering to the social protocol of marriage — felt empowering.

Did I feel like the queen of the world? Maybe not! I was feeling more comfortable in my skin. It might have been a long time coming but I missed solitude. Growing up I was always an introvert, I would maintain a diary and jot my thoughts but with so much noise around, I didn’t know what I wanted. I am not sure if this experiment helped me make better decisions, but it certainly made me more aware of my thoughts.

We fail to realise how important this step is because we tend to lose ourselves in the noise. Don’t let that happen to you, my friend. It might sound cliche but in this world full of people, I hope you choose yourself first? You’re all you’ve got — the constant.

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