Group Chat is a weekly series where HuffPost UK writers discuss friendship, diary dilemmas and how to reclaim our social lives in a busy world.
“Table for one? Or will someone else be joining you?” A dinner reservation for one person never fails to raise a few eyebrows. Whether it’s the waiter who sympathetically leaves two menus on the table (you know, just in case) or the fellow diners who look on with pity presuming I’ve been stood up by a date or am going through some kind of quarter-life crisis that can only be solved by three courses of pasta and profiteroles.
In fact, I just want to be on my own. I actively choose to spend time alone on a semi-regular basis, most recently when my partner went away on a work trip for two weeks. It coincided with a weekend that lots of friends were away on holiday/at weddings/doing whatever else seems to keep people’s diaries choc-a-bloc throughout summer. I probably could have searched through my phonebook for someone who was free but, honestly, I didn’t want to.
Instead I took my towel to my nearest swimming pool and spent hours reading my book, listening to music and eavesdropping on other people’s conversations. When I’d had enough sun, I went to a nearby bakery for brunch and had a look in the shops. It was my perfect day – with or without company.
Not everyone has the luxury of choosing to be alone, of course; many are forced into one-on-one time because they have no one: 5% of adults in England say they ‘often’ or ‘always’ feel lonely (with women and young people disproportionately affected). Then there are those suffering with ill health, disabilities or bereavement who go for long spells without human contact.
But for those of us who spend our days surrounded by colleagues in the workplace, our evenings and weekends with family, friends and partners, all the while being constantly bombarded by WhatsApp, social media and email, time to ourselves can be a rare treat.
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