Posted by: tlnemethy | March 13, 2013

Alone

You know what’s weird? The fact that I’ve never really journeyed anywhere by myself. Sure, I went to Indiana for a summer, but I was going to school and it’s not like I was completely alone in my newness. There’s something invigorating in going to a new place, whether it’s some exotic locale or a neighboring town you’re unfamiliar with that really solidifies your independent self. In high school, my teacher told us that we needed to go out to restaurants by ourselves; sit in a booth without the comfort of idle chitchat or hiding behind our comforts. I pshawed the idea. Of course I could eat by myself. I’ve effectively been ordering my own food for years, I mean c’mon. What’s so hard about eating by yourself?

It sucks. You feel like you stick out in the crowd, and not for any good reasons to be memorable. Casual glances from three tables down start to insinuate a distrust or an air of judgement. I begin to fiddle with my cellphone, rereading the same old texts over again while thinking that they won’t be able to tell my phone is dumb. Everyone has internet access on cells now. I don’t, but they don’t know that. They. They. They. It becomes me and them. A line drawn in the sand that splits us and keeps us detached from each other. I’m obviously a social leper. Why else would I be sitting alone in a restaurant? These are all things that I imagine them thinking.

In AP Psych we became familiar with a principle that described a hyper awareness of how people perceive you. Let’s call it the sock principle. Say, Sally goes to church and thinks she’s grabbed matching dark socks, but instead she’s wearing a mismatched pair. Because she notices this she automatically thinks that other people will too, meaning every glance towards her results in a fear of her flaws being noticed.

Sitting alone in a restaurant, or even traveling alone, can result in an exaggerated relay of the sock principle. But, as is tested in many psych experiments annually, overexposure to a fear trigger can sometimes cause the fear to dissipate with time.

Wear those mismatched socks while traveling. I dare you. Besides, making up stories of everyone around you is a brilliant way to pass the time in an entertaining manner without having to resort to buying a smart phone.


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