On standing alone
This one time...at a happy hour...I was approached by a very frustrated gentleman. He expressed to me that his problems stemmed from the fact that, after 32 exhausting years, he remained unwed. Basically everywhere he went, couples were parading around with locked hands, shoving swaddled babies in his face. It was hard to keep the conversation going, but not because he wasn't interesting; he was just that frustrated.
It was frustrating!
I tried assuring him things would turn out fine (he was handsome, educated, intelligent, employed, well-dressed, outgoing) and encouraged him to enjoy the evening and company around him (Hint: me, or any of the other women around!), but he was set on being frustrated. I further insisted that although his life may not mirror the life of his parents (or their parents), this was, in fact, a good thing because it was his life now, meant to be lived his way. But to this man, happiness was embedded in family values and traditions intended to be passed on to generations [of more frustrated people] to come.
He wanted a wife, children and a white-picket fence. And he wanted them yesterday.
(His words, not mine.)
I made the mistake of telling him that I enjoyed being single (I mean, might as well embrace the moment before it's gone again!). He rolled his eyes and scoffed, saying this was precisely the issue with "women these days"—we're so happy being single, we no longer care about getting married anymore.
What version of Cosmopolitan magazine was he quoting, I wondered?
It was then I realized the creature presented before me was a married man trapped in a single man's body. (While more rare than their ancestral types, they do exist!)
The more he complained, the more I hoped that "Ghost of Single's Past" would appear before us, revealing to him that, in moments like this, he was so busy painting his proverbial white fence, he was also sabotaging his own happy ending. After all, this man was completely forgetting to flirt with the women present, any of whom *could* have had potential of leading to a first date, in addition to more dates, then setting a date, followed by a due date!
Sadly, no ghost appeared that night.
Playing Cat & Mouse
I want you.
You want cheese.
This isn’t working out…
…because you escape me,
with cheese in your mouth.
....because you appear the star
of each episode,
leaving me in the dust.
You’re Jerry. This sucks.
You go play with other mice
while l go find a cat,
trying to get over my love of mice…
…because you deserve to be happy
and I deserve better
and I’m tired.
…because the more I chase you,
the faster you run away
and I notice no one is chasing after me.
It's hard going it alone. Especially when our natural tendency is to feel comfortable, and for some reason, being alone can feel just the opposite. We pour a drink prior to heading out to loosen up, invite a plus-one to the event, or pull out our phones the moment our surroundings start to cave in around us, exposing the truth: it's just me.
Here are a few exercises you can try the next time you find yourself going somewhere by yourself (and aren't feeling especially crazy about it):
1. Look around. Notice if you are actually alone. If not, try spotting other people who are "by themselves." (Bonus points if you approach them and say 'hello').
2. Ask someone a question; it forces an answer. (I once made a friend with this one: "Is this event still going on?" While I admit it was not my finest, it worked.)
3. Keep in mind that people like to feel interesting and important, so listen and observe to find out what someone's interests are, then ask them to elaborate on the topic. (Here you're basically asking someone to talk about him or herself, their finest subject!)
Before heading out, tell yourself one or two affirming messages to give you a boost. For example: I enjoy talking to people and people enjoy talking to me. Also, one of my personal favorites: I have a good time wherever I go.
Once you start, it might become so fun, you'll suddenly be on a roll...
I enjoy meeting new people.
I find it easy to talk to others.
People enjoy my company.
I engage in interesting conversations.
People are interesting.
I am interesting.
I am easy to get along with.
I'm telling you, there is magic in positive, affirming messages! (You don't even have to say them aloud!) The more you experience the magic, the more you will start to believe. (It's kind of the opposite of the Disney situation we've got going on). Then, the more you believe, the more affirmations you can come up with on your own. They work best when they come from within, but you always need to start somewhere.
As your affirmations become more natural and believable for you, you'll start to realize it was never even magic to begin with—you had the power all along! (Okay, fine, cue the Disney soundtrack.) In time, your fears of being (or ending up) alone will have been but "once upon a time." Or, at least, will be minimized to "once in a while."
Natalia de Frutos is a Spanish-based illustrator and graphic designer. For her illustration is the best way to show her personality. She draws inspiration from her favourite films, the summer, and the little stories of everyday life. Reflected in her work is the child she carries deep inside.