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Rebecca Carpenter Photography Vicky-56.j

Reflections from solo brunch

I am sat on London’s Southbank, enjoying my breakfast alone. A few people have caught my eye, apparently trying to figure out why I’m alone and if I’m ok with it. I am doing my best to assume a calm outward confidence to reassure them that I am.

The truth is that I haven’t always enjoyed doing things by myself, because I didn’t always have a healthy relationship with myself. But I am extremely grateful that over the past 7 years of self-discovery I have been on through my yoga practice, I can genuinely say now that I really enjoy my own company. I love other people and am extremely social, but now and then I love to spend solitary time in my own head, giving myself some much-needed one-on-one time.

I remember a time once in Greece when I took myself out to dinner alone and the man who owned the restaurant was so distressed to see a young woman dining alone, he took it upon himself to be my personal companion throughout my meal. He talked and talked to me, for so long that I didn’t manage to eat all of my food before it went cold. I believe he really meant to reassure me that I was ok to be alone (I already knew that I was) and that he didn’t believe I would be alone forever. It seemed really important to him to let me know this.

I haven’t had the same experience so far today - one of the joys of London is that you are generally left to your own devices by others unless you are in need of emergency assistance - but sitting here has caused me to reflect on all the times I have ever done something by myself and people have responded in a way that displays they are concerned for me. Why do we do this? Why did that Greek restaurateur so earnestly need me to know that I wouldn’t be dining alone forever?

We are a social species and it is lovely to share moments and experiences with loved ones and friends, even sometimes strangers, but we seem to have been trained to believe that time spent in our own company is shameful, to be avoided at all costs. I wonder what they fear will happen if we start to get to know ourselves and possibly even like ourselves a bit better… maybe we would choose a path in life that suits us more than what we have been told we should do by society; perhaps we would realise that it is better to be alone and happy than in a toxic relationship. Perhaps we would realise that life isn’t just about physical connections with other people and constant companionship… it might also be about this place that we exist in within ourselves.

As I often say in my classes, we are never truly alone, because even in our loneliness we share that experience with others who have also felt alone. There are extremely profound connections to be find within our own minds and bodies. I actually think that time spent alone with oneself is essential to beginning to understand the way the universe is built. There are so many places within ourselves that hold the answers to all of the big questions; we are literally carrying libraries of solutions around in our bodies wherever we go. Answers to questions such as: Who Am I? Why am I here? What is happiness? What is health? What is life all about? Yet we live in a world that teaches us to seek these answers externally. To never be alone. To pity those who are.

So perhaps this is why we find it uncomfortable to witness a person fully comfortable in their own skin, enjoying their own company, choosing not to participate in the performance of external connections. Because we’ve never been taught to seek connection internally, too.

It’s perfectly enjoyable right now for me to sit and eat food by myself, to be out and about and doing things that society tells me I can only do with another person.

I’m sat here philosophising, noticing the colour of the flowers in the pot next to me, watching the people walking by, listening to the sounds of the city waking up. I’ve got so much closer to self-fulfilment and self-realisation by spending this hour alone than I would have sat here conversing with someone else. That’s not to say that I won’t enjoy meeting back up with my friend later and spending time talking, connecting and reminiscing. But this time has been special.

When was the last time you did something entirely alone that society would tell you needs to be done with someone else?

If you never have, perhaps this is your sign to give it a try…

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