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Old 10-01-2012, 01:59 PM
 
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I think it's different if your goal is to go out alone in order to meet people, or to go out alone, and just have a good time alone. I tend to fall into the latter category.

I like eating alone in restaurants (although I do admit, and have posted on this, that servers tend to not trat single diners very well). When I was younger, I would worry "what are people thinking if they see me eating alone? Will they think I'm stange or lonely?" But I reached a point around age 28 when I realized that no one is really paying attention, and the only one thinking about me eating alone was ME. Plus, I love to read, so I always have my book or kindle with me.

When I was younger, I would also go to one or two local bars alone (now that I have my own house, I'll usually just have a drink at home). I also went to bars with friends too, but sometimes I just felt like going alone. I would watch the TV, read a book, or play the video trivia game while I had a few drinks. It was annoying a few times, when guys would assume "single young woman in a bar must be looking for a date" but I set them straight. I got the impression that it might be easier for men to sit at a bar alone than women, but I don't know if that was just my experience or if it's accurate. One time I was reading a book at a bar and there was guy at the other end also reading a book, and we struck up a conversation about how we like to read in bars, and not talk to people, but talking to another person with a book was actually cool.

Because I like time alone, and recognize that for some people like me, being alone does not equal loneliness, when I saw therapy clients, I would urge them for homework to try to go out and do something alone. Sometimes these were people who were introverts naturally, but they had been made to feel self-conscious, that there was something "wrong" with them. Sometimes these were people who did have the goal of meeting new people, but they had a lot of fear and social anxiety, and I had to help them get out there first, before they could even hope to meet anyone.

Even my most socially fearful clients found going to a movie alone during the day was the easiest first step. Once the lights are out, no one can see you, so that takes care of the what will people think" worry. Plus, there is something big and huge and loud to focus on, so you're less likely to focus on the other people or on you own internal feelings and fears. I had one lady thank me for "forcing" her to go to the movies alone, and she started doing it every week, saying "it was like therapy." Plus, there's something liberating about being in a dark theater during a bright sunny day, and knowing that nobody else knows where you are right now. Then when it's over you walk out into that bright sunlight, and it's like you've been away resting for a week.
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Old 10-01-2012, 02:41 PM
 
Location: Cleverly concealed
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VX5650 View Post
Thanks everybody for these nice responses!

RadioSilence-I can't imagine bowling alone. You are brave! What is interesting is that someone wrote a book a while back about American disconnectedness and it was titled "Bowling Alone." I am not religious either but I noticed that there is a Unitarian church nearby and I'm thinking there may be some interesting people there. Could be some scary people there as well?
The bowling alley scene is not as bad as you might think. Most people are there in groups, and only paying attention to the people in their group. I've been right in the middle, lane 14 or 15 or so, without any interaction from strangers. The only weird thing is I bowl right-handed one game and left-handed the next, but that's not easily noticed.

I don't have any insight into a Unitarian Church. I attended an easy-going Congregational church when I was a kid. I played in the hand bell choir, so I had no choice but to sit up front. Even though the church served free coffee after the service, I usually left as quickly as possible.
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Old 10-01-2012, 02:55 PM
 
Location: Colorado
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I can somewhat relate. I do a lot of things by myself during the day such as shopping, going to a movie, visiting a festival, but evening events can give me actual panic attacks. Eg; an acquaintance from bookclub invites me to a party at her house. I say yes and then spend the rest of the day practically breathing into a paper bag and hoping desperately for some excuse to come along that will enable me to bail. All this happens every time even though I know from experience that if/when I actually do go, I'll almost certainly have a great time!
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Old 10-01-2012, 03:13 PM
 
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I am one, who finds dealing with people, just to be overwhelming sometimes. I hate meeting strangers. Making small talk is a huge chore for me. All day long, I have to do that for my job. I wish I had learned how to do something like computer programming or make web pages. Where I did not have to deal with people as much.

So, when I am home, alone, I don't want to leave my "sanctuary", at all. I don't want to go work out, go to the store, or any other things that mean leaving my home. It really does not bother me to be this way. But, I "force" myself to go out, I belong to the gym, and force myself to go there, every day. Just like I make myself go to work on a daily basis. Once you are out the door, it is fine. It is just getting the whole thing, to get out the door.
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Old 10-01-2012, 03:39 PM
 
Location: Southern NC
1,921 posts, read 4,437,565 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jasper12 View Post
I am one, who finds dealing with people, just to be overwhelming sometimes. I hate meeting strangers. Making small talk is a huge chore for me. All day long, I have to do that for my job. I wish I had learned how to do something like computer programming or make web pages. Where I did not have to deal with people as much.

So, when I am home, alone, I don't want to leave my "sanctuary", at all. I don't want to go work out, go to the store, or any other things that mean leaving my home. It really does not bother me to be this way. But, I "force" myself to go out, I belong to the gym, and force myself to go there, every day. Just like I make myself go to work on a daily basis. Once you are out the door, it is fine. It is just getting the whole thing, to get out the door.
I could have written this.
I have PTSD, and even before that was an issue, I have always had extreme anxiety and clinical depression....even as a preteen.
About 10 years ago I developed full out agoraphobia...I couldn't leave my house...that lasted a year, and slowly, I was able to rejoin society and start a business.
I have to talk to clients all the time, but I feel like I'm such a fake....I'm not nearly as happy and chipper as I pretend to be.
I love nothing more than being home in my "safe place."
I could absolutely never go out to eat, or do anything alone....I feel like everyone is looking at me and picking me apart.
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Old 10-03-2012, 04:39 PM
 
Location: Windham County, VT
10,703 posts, read 5,182,833 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TracySam View Post
I think it's different if your goal is to go out alone in order to meet people, or to go out alone, and just have a good time alone.
Think that's a crucial distinction to make, and you summed it up well.

Some of us are vulnerable to one version/half of this problem, yet find the other side/half relatively easy (simple, non-stressful, realistically doable) to handle.
Some folks experience great anxiety, dread, intimations of doom (ineffective, discouraging reactions), in response to both these aspects of social/public life.
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Old 11-04-2012, 12:26 AM
 
Location: The Island of Misfit Toys
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VX5650 View Post
Does anybody else struggle with leaving the house alone and going places alone? For instance, I would love to go get a beer at a nice, local bar but I have no one to go with and I can't seem to make myself go alone. While there I think it would be nice to talk to some people but I have no idea how to talk to strangers any more!
Then there is a church that looks interesting and I tell myself that I'll go but when the time comes I can't seem to do it.
How do you make yourself go out in public alone and do things with people when you haven't done it in so long or haven't even done it at all? How do you get over the overwhelming internal resistance?
I struggled with this for a long time until I realized that the reason I was hesitant was because, deep down, I really wasn't looking for company. Notice that your issue is not exactly about being alone, but being alone around other people. What you are struggling with is the semi-conscious, unspoken cultural more against being alone. People make stupid assumptions about people who are alone and my guess is you would rather not deal with that and that's why you are reluctant. So you can either decide not to care what stupid people think or just do things that avoids crowds until your situation evolves. The point is to not force yourself either way. Just do what feels comfortable. If your instincts tell you that you don't want to be around people, don't beat yourself up over it.
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Old 11-04-2012, 05:09 AM
 
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OP - You've had some excellent responses on this thread. If the Meetup group works for you, you might even start your own for biking or some other interest someday.

One thing I'd suggest is to start with what you know and are comfortable with. Since you said in a later post here that you aren't a churchy person but thought it could be a way to meet people - personally, I'd skip that. Most of the people there are going to be churchy people and you'll be several steps away from finding out which of them has anything in common with you/shared interests. On the other hand, since you enjoy bicycling - get out and do that more. You can explore your neighborhood, find bike paths and parks, stop by the local bike-pro shop (if there is one). That gets you out on your own with the possibility of interaction - even just a casual nod at another passing cyclist. Plus, the fresh air and exercise are good for you and can be a mood lifter/confidence builder.

Another venture out that is low-impact compared to a bar or other more intense social/group venues, is spending time at a public library or museum. People go to those places alone all the time so you won't stand out - and there's far less social interaction (especially sustained interaction) so you can sort of ease into how it feels to be out on your own but surrounded by other people. There's plenty of seating and no one will rush you to leave or think it's odd that you're sitting there reading or browsing. I love going to our library - it gives me a sense of belonging and community even if I don't speak with anyone.

As for speaking with strangers - another easy way for brief snippets of conversations is to make a habit of going to the grocery store - maybe even 2-3 times a week. Again, you're doing something alone that most people do alone, you can browse and walk the aisles, try a smile/nod to a passer by, offer to get something off a higher shelf for someone on tip-toes, choose a longer line and/or right behind an older woman (sorry for the stereotype but they might be more likely to initiate small talk).

If you do consider volunteering, I'd actually recommend something not directly in service to the needy. Something behind the scenes or less interactive/service oriented might be an easier transition. That way, most of the people you'd be working with would be employees and potential social connections.

Speaking of work - are you employed and have you tried or had any luck developing connections with people there?
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Old 11-04-2012, 05:24 AM
 
15,803 posts, read 9,804,498 times
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Originally Posted by MsAnnThrope View Post
You're alone for about 5 minutes. Someone will start talking to you.
The OP already responded to this but I'll add that this is true for some but not for many others. It's more likely to be true for someone who is comfortable and confident. You don't have to be a shrinking violet for people to pick up on that less-than-comfortable energy. When people are told that being talked to is the easiest thing in the world, it can make them feel even worse when it isn't so easy for them after all.
Quote:
Originally Posted by CTGirlNoMore View Post
I'm shy, first of all. Second, I'm not attractive so I know people always be looking at me and secrectly laughing about the 'ugly chick out alone cuz she can't find anyone to go with her'.
If people are going to be judgmental, they'll be doing it to everyone, not just you - and they'll probably be worse about the hot chick than the plain one - chances are they'll find something besides your level of attractiveness to snark about. Point is - some people are just that way and everyone is a target. Most people really don't pay that much attention to their surroundings and are more interested in themselves and their companions than they are in anyone else. If they notice you at all, I think the majority of people would think you're pretty cool to be out on your own like that - and they'd wish they felt ok doing that (or would judge themselves because they think they couldn't do it).
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Old 11-04-2012, 05:25 PM
 
1,245 posts, read 1,573,878 times
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Originally Posted by Shankapotomus View Post
I struggled with this for a long time until I realized that the reason I was hesitant was because, deep down, I really wasn't looking for company. Notice that your issue is not exactly about being alone, but being alone around other people. What you are struggling with is the semi-conscious, unspoken cultural more against being alone. People make stupid assumptions about people who are alone and my guess is you would rather not deal with that and that's why you are reluctant. So you can either decide not to care what stupid people think or just do things that avoids crowds until your situation evolves. The point is to not force yourself either way. Just do what feels comfortable. If your instincts tell you that you don't want to be around people, don't beat yourself up over it.

Hello and thanks for the response. To be honest, I don't know what I am looking for. On the one hand I really like my alone time, on the other hand I have this gnawing feeling that I need to connect with other people. It's an odd feeling that causes me a good bit of depression.
This past month I have been practicing talking to strangers in public. Making small talk. It's been going very well and I find that many people are actually quite friendly and are willing to converse if you get the ball rolling but small talk is not what I'm craving. Truth is, I don't know what I'm craving.
I know that I don't want to have a romantic relationship at the moment.
I guess I would like to be a part of something but I'm not good at that because my personality is so strange and too individualistic. People don't always understand my sense of humor or my ideas about things.
I do agree that it doesn't pay to force yourself into stuff or to beat yourself up over things. So, as you said, I have been letting things evolve and rather than put myself into awkward situations I have been ramping-up talking to strangers as well as people I know on a day to day basis and trying to be a better conversationalist. It's hard!
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