There used to be a certain shame I had in relation to being perceived "alone"
Since I was little I was such an introvert. Always in my head, very quiet. My parents left me alone for the majority of the time, so I got used to it. It made more sense to be alone, but I didn't want to be perceived that way for fear it would make me unlikeable. Back then, if you didn't have a flock of friends, it was like you were more vulnerable in your own insecurities. If someone didn't validate you with their presence or their assurance, where could you hide?
Being alone is a luxury I worked to get. I waited through college, through a few years of living with roommates to finally be able to get a place of my own. There's a certain luxury to being wanted, your company welcomed and even craved, but rejecting that and opting to be alone.
I used to be afraid that if I didn't have a ton of friends with me all the time, or at least digitally connected, other people wouldn't like me. We like the people who are popular and seen with others, afterall.
Nowadays once in a while I'll go out to dinner alone. And sometimes I'll get looks- it's a curiosity: "why is she alone?" Lunch alone is acceptable, but dinner makes people wonder. I remember when I was 23, one night, walking home alone, and a guy shouted at me, "why is a girl like YOU going home alone?" and I shrugged.
"I'm going home alone because I chose it," I whispered, under my breath, not wanting to engage further with him.
Instead of shame, of hiding the truth that essentially, I am alone, as we all are, I'm now proud. I don't need anyone and when I do want someone, I want them because they add something, not because they've suddenly filled a void. Back then, even though my social circle was full and I spent much more time with people than I do now, there was a pervasive feeling of loneliness. I must've tried hard to hide that, but through the years after getting in touch with myself, that feeling went away. Loneliness is just you looking for you.
There are many people who would love to take me out to dinner. I know this because of how many advances, calls, texts, matches I've ignored. I have yet to go on one date where someone didn't ask me out again and/or leave the ball in my court. Friends have said, "do you see the way men look at you?" and I respond, "what? no." because it's a part of my reality, I don't know any differently, and being a sensitive, I feel all the sexual energy directed towards me. I don't have to pay for companionship, if I wanted to see someone the likelihood of them saying no is very slim. But I choose to take myself out to dinner alone because it asserts a certain agency. I can be with someone, but I choose not to be. And I choose to earn my own living and be by myself, instead of settle or be dependent. At least alone, I can be real, which isn't always the case with company.
It's this choice that's a luxury. And I feel fortunate. Will I always be alone? No. But while I choose to be, I'll enjoy it. And that's what makes my company even more valuable.
"the capacity to be alone is the capacity to love. It may look paradoxical to you, but it's not. It is an existential truth: only those people who are capable of being alone are capable of love, of sharing, of going into the deepest core of another person-- without possessing the other, without becoming dependent on the other, without reducing the other to a thing, and without becoming addicted to the other. They allow the other absolute freedom, because they now that if the other leaves, they will be as happy as they are now. Their happiness cannot be taken by the other, because it is not given by the other," -Osho