The clock ticks away the final seconds of your last class of the day. The sun is shining, your friends are free and myriads of social events await you. What do you decide to do on this lovely day?
Go to dinner at a new restaurant alone and without any technology.
This could be the recipe for a very boring excursion or the fuse of a potential existential crisis being lit. We enjoy sharing our lives and experiences with other people. Think of any social media platform – they constantly encourage you to keep your friends in the loop of your life.
I am suggesting that you cut out a few hours from your week to make time for yourself.
I vividly remember the first time I went out alone. The film “The Green Knight” by David Lowrey was just released in theaters. When none of my friends wanted to go, I went to the theater on a supremely blue summer day in 2021.
Sitting in the theater alone — the film did not do well at the box office — I was simply allowed to enjoy the film free from anyone else’s opinions, thoughts or distractions. Munching popcorn as loud as I wanted to, I kicked my feet up on the seat in front of me, which proved to be one of the most memorable moments of the summer. It was sacred and it was mine.
The wonderful thing about going out alone is that the time you spend with yourself is strictly yours. None of your friends or acquaintances are there to distract you from existing with yourself. Being alone is a skill that must be cultivated. Introspection does not visit the weak of heart and it is a task which takes practice.
Being alone is a wonderfully fruitful activity, and there are plenty of ways to do it! Taking yourself out to a restaurant allows you to eavesdrop on some of the most salacious conversations (Rebecca did WHAT to get her archaeology PhD?) and allows your palate to taste food without the input of others' taste buds.
Watching a film alone eases the anxiety of talking too much or too little during the film and has no opportunities for awkwardly inching your hand closer to your date’s hand (“La La Land” makes it look too easy).
Even being a tourist in the city of Portland by yourself can be an emancipating experience. Have you ever strolled around the International Rose Test Garden without the chatter of peers discussing which flower has the funniest name (the Just Joey rose has my vote) and instead focused your senses on the scents in front of you?
Browsing the shelves of Powell’s Bookstore at your own pace can give you freedom from the hurried glances of your #booktok pals. And even the simple act of walking around campus to be alone with your thoughts can be an outing in and of itself.
Although you might be going out alone, that does not mean that you are going out into a lonely world. Being by yourself makes you an especially observant participant in the world around you. Conversations that once faded into the background are now more enticing than any tabloid could be. Sights which would once go by in a blur with your friends now become things which can be pondered or admired. Complete strangers who surround you could become potential friends and interlocutors (shoutout to the Spanish professor from Nashville who had breakfast with me).
The Ancient Greek aphorism “Know Thyself” is especially pertinent to my argument. I noticed that when I hung out with a group of friends too often, I would slowly forget who I was and instead simply knew who they were. Taking yourself out forces you to confront your own thoughts, opinions and identity. It can be an extremely hard but rewarding effort to be alone in the world around you, but not be lonely.
So, I have a challenge for you, Beacon reader. When you are thinking of your plans for this next weekend or have some spare time in your day, choose to be alone. Next time you make that dinner reservation, make it for a table for one.
Noah Carandanis is a news reporter for The Beacon. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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