So the title does feel quite a bit like another blog post I worked on. But that was more of a discussion on being a somewhat mostly orphan. This post is about dining alone. I’m a mostly solitary kind of girl. Since moving to San Antonio I’ve kept a few close friends but many are busy and I spend a lot of time in splendid isolation. I eat lunch often times alone. I spend a lot of time in my apartment alone. When I spend time out of the house it’s often by myself. But I don’t say all of these things as a bleeding heart. I’m an introvert, I like my own company. And honestly I’m usually talking to someone while I’m out and about or at home but that person usually just isn’t directly in front of me.
I want to talk about why we are so averse to seeing someone alone.
The first response is usually to pity the poor thing. Oh how tragic, this poor tiny woman sitting at alone at a busy bistro. My response to that is I’m fine. I’m usually fine. I’m either listening to an audiobook, a podcast or reading. The second response is often a morbid curiosity. Why is she sitting alone? Is she okay? Did she get dumped? Was she left at the altar pregnant and without a dime? No no no no no and no. Just sitting alone at Starbucks. That happens. It’s not 1920. Women are allowed to sit alone.
While this seems like the rantings of a very angry tiny woman over a likely imagined threat it wasn’t until recently that I started feeling guilty for sitting alone. Normally, I never let it bother me. I sit alone, it happens sometimes. But it was at lunch recently that I felt the judgemental eyes of the masses upon me in between sips of a soda and bites of a salad made of not the finest greens. I was listening to the Welcome to Night Vale novel and enjoying the story but when people would walk by they almost expected me to be sitting with someone else and when that simply wasn’t the case they looked nearly disappointed. They were almost disappointed that a woman sat alone. And in their disappointment, it seems as those they removed my agency: sitting alone was my choice.
This isn’t high school. I’m not the frumpy comic nerd who eats alone in the library and even when that was me during high school that was my choice: I was anime club president, I spent lots of time in the library donating and organizing the books and manga.
And here’s where I’ll make a distinction: introverts do get lonely. I do sometimes wish I had a partner to eat with. But most of the times I am seen out and about I’m usually okay. What matters is the issue of agency. And let’s be honest: between my cellphone and friends all over the country and the world I am almost never alone. Just because someone isn’t sitting across from me doesn’t mean that I’m not having a rousing conversation about gender, depiction and diversity in various pop culture artifacts.
If it’s my desire to sit alone and read manga then that’s perfectly acceptable. If I chose to sit and have tea and sake with a friend then also perfectly acceptable. I’ve written about this actually more than once and introversion isn’t a fault: just a trait.
Now if you’ll excuse me…Carlos was telling Cecil how much he loved him and I really really want to figure out what’s up with these flamingos and King City.