It’s Friday night and I’m standing in the line at the Fish and Chip shop. It feels about 100 degrees and I am sweltering whilst waiting to order. I’m crowded in by families, couples getting up in each other’s personal space and groups of friends gossiping about their week. I have a sweat moustache.
Fish and Chip Lady: “What’ll you have love?”
Me: “Um, do you have a small pack of fish and chips?”
Fish and Chip Lady: “That’ll be the single pack.”
Me: “Yeh, one of those please.”
Fish and Chip Lady:“Are you sure hon, that won’t be enough for you and your boyfriend”.
*winks saucily at the strange man standing behind me*
Me (face turning beetroot): “Erm… he’s not.. I mean, we don’t… I’m by myself”.
Fish and Chip Lady (staring deep into my eyes in pity):“Oh, okay. I’ll put that through”.
As I pushed through the sweaty people waiting for their orders, this is what popped into my head:
As I wiped the sweat off my upper lip, I thought:
‘So what if I’m getting fish and chips on my own on a Friday night? I like fish and chips. Sure, I probably wont finish all the chips. But fuck yeh, I won’t have to share my calamari rings.’
A week later, I ducked into a food court for a quick bite. I grabbed some delightful spring rolls and this napkin –
This is when I realised, society says; ‘it’s weird to be alone’. According to this napkin and the Fish and Chip shop lady, you should be with someone. Hanging out alone in public is a social faux pas.
The fear of being alone is real for many of us. Otherwise why would that meme be so damn popular? It probably stems from the human fear of death and the idea that we face whatever comes after life by ourselves.
And I get it, some people out there are legitimately lonely. They don’t have any friends, some of them need some loving. Perhaps they are even looking for someone to share their lives with. But that’s being LONELY. Not ALONE. And that’s why we have the internet.
The thing that no one talks about is that relationships are fucking hard work. I’m not just talking about your lover or your wrestling partner. I’m talking about spending time with your family, being nice to your average work colleague and dealing with your friends 24/7. That shit is exhausting and if you don’t get a chance to re-charge with some quality alone time, you’ll lose your mind.
Like this guy, who just wanted to eat his freaken ice-cream and didn’t feel like sharing:
The problem is, that so many of us are from the Disney generation where it’s been drummed into our brains that we need someone else to make us happy.
I’m not advocating that you get rid of your friendships, relationships and average colleagues. What I’m saying is, that people who are uncomfortable hanging out by themselves must have really shit personalities. If you can’t stand being around yourself than who the hell else will?
You know what makes me suspicious? Those people who stay in relationships that suck. The whole “I don’t want to be old, alone and get eaten by my cats” mentality.
Are you afraid of ending up alone and being eaten by your cats? Answer these 3 questions to find out:
1) Have you ever gone to a restaurant/ cafe or bar by yourself, on purpose?
2) Can you spend an entire day by yourself without calling someone to hang out with you?
3) Have you ever ditched a social engagement for some alone time? (Sexual and non-sexual, both count as self-love).
If you answered YES to at least one of the three questions above, you are doing alright, will find inner peace and may manage to walk on hot coals without getting burnt.
If you answered NO to any/all it’s time you invest in some one on one loving. Take yourself out for a nice meal and glass of wine. (Don’t get too comfortable drinking alone though, I hear that’s a slippery slope).
So the next time you get stood up, haven’t been invited to a party or your lover is screening your calls, remember kids – being alone isn’t the same as being lonely.
Just for reference – this is what Fish and Chips for one looks like:
I was preparing to fly to India and decided, last minute, to make myself a quick pasta. (So I’d be nice and full on the flight).
I had been discussing my travel plans excitedly all week, laughing off the odd comment about food poisoning and people who return from overseas travel with weird parasites in their intestines. That’s how optimistic I was… laughing at parasites, which are generally horrifying.
My travel buddy Erin picked me up at 7.30. Our flight was due to fly out at 12.50am so we planned to stop by her dad’s house on the way to the airport.
It was then that the trouble began. It soon became obvious that I had given myself food poisoning with a vegetarian pasta. There was brocoli in it (but surprisingly no trace of carrot).
After being the worst how guest ever and then having to pull over on the way to the airport so I could retch into a clump of Australian flora, the irony dawned on me.
I gave myself food poisoning hours before my flight to India.
I have always struggled with the concept of dignity. Mostly because I experience so little of it in my everyday life. Take for instance, the moment when (after sprinting to the toilet at the airport) I am walked in on by a German back-packer who then awkwardly retreated the way she came, because her giant backpack made it impossible for her to turn around and.
The horror on her face is etched into my memory.
The other awkward part about being sick is that bathrooms aren’t hygienic to kneel in. Why? You may ask. Don’t they clean airport bathrooms? No, the answer is, they don’t clean them. There are pubes everywhere. HOW CAN THERE BE SO MANY PUBES? I thought, as I picked one from my jumper.
It doesn’t help that when vomiting in a public toilet, everyone assumes you have an eating disorder. Which is rude because if I was, no one was helpful at all. They all just looked around like “oh there is the girl who just violently spewed up all her home-made pasta and sounded vaguely like a dying cat”.
Luckily the retching subsided just before we boarded the plane, but I like to think that I made history after that 13 hour plane trip. If you like, you can shake the hand of someone who actually felt better after getting off an international flight, than when they got on. That’s right kids, there is always a happy ending (especially in Asia).
However, this start to a holiday is certainly one I will not forget. After looking at food like this, (see above) the deep irony of this event is not lost on me.