home is where the heart is

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Recently, a Huffington Post article has been circulating on my social media feeds called The Stigma of Doing Things Alone. Perhaps you posted a link to it. Perhaps you clicked the link. Perhaps you don’t give two fucks, in which case, I’ll Cole’s Notes it for you: The article basically says that you should stop feeling bad/sorry for people who do things alone. Out with your friends and see someone sitting at a table on their lonesome? Chances are they aren’t lonely one bit. And yet people look down on others who do things by themselves. As if they don’t have anyone to do anything with. The author asks: Why is it still seen as socially unacceptable to do things by yourself? And why is it always presumed that people don’t want to do things alone?

I for one am someone who enjoys few things more than my own company; my own solitude. I’ve always been this way, and more so over the past six years or so that I’ve been in the public eye, if you will. I remember the first big paycheque I got was in my early twenties. I treated myself to lunch – by myself – at Studio Cafe in Toronto’s Four Seasons Hotel. Studio Cafe was a restaurant I went to with my parents growing up, and it felt ever-so-fulfilling to be able to treat myself and be there on my own terms; on my own time. It was a pricey place, that had a ladies who lunch sort of crowd, and it was a delicious and decadent feeling to sit there and order whatever I wanted from the menu, while just unwinding from the hard work I’d put in over the past little while.

Since then, I’ve set a precedent for myself. I realized that I actually feel my best when I can come and go as I please. No commitments. No plans to break when I’m not feeling up for it. No hoping or willing whoever I have plans with will cancel. I realized quite young in the game – at a time where being alone is especially looked down upon – that I really rather enjoyed it. And it set the tone to where I’m now at in my thirties.

My friends and family joke about my love for men who live in different area codes. Even today, on a brief car ride with my dad, he asked – in earnest – “Why can’t you find men in Toronto?” To which I couldn’t help but laugh. I can find men in Toronto. I’ve found plenty a men in Toronto. And they’re great and funny and sexy and talented and hot as hell. But what draws me to men outside of my city (and at times, Country,) is the knowingness that I can be independent, without hurting another. That I can still do me, on my own terms, without losing myself in another. Without having to have someone tag along with me to events and parties and work obligations, who I’ll likely end up babysitting. I mean sure, every now and again it’s nice to have a sidekick. Someone to share my good times with, and sometimes those Toronto guys I causally date do tag along, but I still prefer hitting up those events and gigs on my own.

I value relationships that are a bonus to my life, but not a need. And when you date someone long distance, it ensures you don’t get wrapped up in another all too soon. It ensures you focus on your priorities and your routines and habitual way of being. But you get to do all that with the knowingness that your other, your man, is just a phone call/text/Facetime/flight away. Sure I’d love to share some of the amazing events I get to go to with another, and sure it would be nice to have a muscular shoulder to lay on (or any shoulder for that matter) while I’m reading a novel at one of my local watering holes, but it’s not a need. I’m ok on my own.

My whole livelihood is writing, and writing is an isolating job, because I live in my head. I work for myself. I don’t have an office or colleagues to check in with – and though I have meetings often – it isn’t the same as being surrounded by people 9 to 5 or even working at a bar/store/cafe/restaurant etc etc etc and getting the opportunity to talk to all sorts of characters who come by. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I’ve seen plays on Broadway alone, I’ve gone to concerts alone, I’ve sat at bars and cafes and eaten at restaurants alone, I’ve traveled alone and gone on press trips that I’ve been invited with a plus one with (all expenses paid) on my own. I’ve even foregone bringing a plus one to events and weddings alike, all so I can do it on my own without any restrictions. Of course I can call a friend to join, and sometimes, I do. But I find that in the comfort of my own presence I can entertain myself, meet new people and really grow as an individual. If you can’t be happy on your own and in your own company for hours on end, how can you be happy in a partnership, or with others? At the end of the day, all we have is us. When you’re truly able soak up your own silence and company, you really have it all. Break out of your comfort zone. You might be pleasantly surprised. And don’t feel bad for those of us who you see sitting alone on a Saturday night out, we are way happier and settled than most.

– Jen

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