I don’t remember much about my school days. I’m the sort of person who doesn’t remember the details but retains quick flashes of certain scenes or a few words uttered by somebody. For instance, I don’t recall what exactly happened on the last day of school but, for me, that day is forever immortalized in my brain as “signed T-shirts”. Our school uniform was T-shirts and track pants and on that last day we went around signing each other’s T-shirts. Even people I hardly ever spoke with wished me good luck. I don’t have that T-shirt anymore although, at that time, I thought I would keep it with me forever. But, in a sense, it is still with me, in my mind. Forever.

I wasn’t a popular kid. I belonged in a loose circle of friends, some of whom were closer to me. We would have lunch together, stood in school assemblies together (our heights were close), sat next to each other in class and did the group assignments together. I can’t remember a single instance in my school-life where I found myself alone. And this was because I couldn’t bear to be alone. I inserted myself in places where I wasn’t invited, or even considered. If the lunch break was approaching and I couldn’t find any of my friends I would hide in the washroom for a while and return to find them hanging around in some corner of class. A wave of relief would wash over me and I’d slip into the conversation casually as if I had been there all the time. I found it physically impossible to push the food down my esophagus (feeling nostalgic about eighth-grade biology yet?) if I had to eat my lunch alone.

That is the history of my chronic people-pleasing. I had a compulsive urge to be likable. I wanted people to want to be around me. I could not stand the thought of someone not liking me for some reason. I would go to great lengths to make them ultimately fall in love with my personality. This continued until my undergraduate college, where I surrounded myself with people, irrespective of whether I had much in common with them or not. I did make some real friends, possibly the most real ones I have till date. But, at that time, I was still desperate for validation. I didn’t stop to think about what I actually wanted.

It wasn’t until I moved out of my comfort zone, to a college farther away from home for my postgraduation, did I realize that it was okay to not always walk around all the time with a human shield. It was a cocoon that I had to shed. Although initially, I tried to blend with my peers and be inducted into some friends circle, with time, I figured that I didn’t need it. I would, in fact, go to the in-campus Café Coffee Day by myself and enjoy a solitary cup of cappuccino. I even travelled to many nearby places solo. And what’s more, the nagging sensation that people were judging me to be pathetic just because I was alone faded away. I began enjoying my own company and found that I was more receptive to the outside world now that my own prejudices were gone.

So these days, when the best-laid plans with friends doesn’t go as intended, but I still need that break, I take it. I go to my favourite bookstore or restaurant by myself and enjoy a relaxing day with the three most amazing people I know: me, myself and I.  

PS: I’m still an occasional people-pleaser. But I can now live with the fact that not everyone must like me. But they will…eventually 😉  

3 thoughts on “Flying Solo

  1. Haha..😁Good👍 I had this school college days were i was taken care of my friends in a way I couldn’t be alone, I ws invisible and the days in which this few people not around i didn’t know what to do. Later on i could see myself that am like a creeper, not a tree. I need other people bcz i ws so imaginary.. It changed now though, it feels so safe to be lone nowadays.

  2. We’ve all been there at some point in life and for much longer than we should have had. So nice of you to pen down something that’s rarely accepted by people at large. Enjoyed reading this, very well put. 🙂

  3. I felt bored going alone..not that I couldn’t go. But now I actually love going alone to places. Just that I hardly get to 😂

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