Is it wrong to hang out alone? I’m still mostly a solitary person these days, though I’ve been trying to make a better effort to spend more quality time with my mom. Just a few days ago I worked up the courage to casually tell her about the Macy’s Flower Show at Herald Square to see if she’d be interested in going with me. We ended up going on Thursday and had a blast taking photos together and shopping around before having dinner together.
This post features a photo I took on April 1st after I visited a newly opened dessert shop in the Lower East Side of New York called Wowfulls. I am not much of a foodie, but I do have a weakness for kawaii looking sweets. It was the store’s grand opening weekend and they had a discount of $5 per customer order, so I made a split second decision to go and check out the place. It was not easy to physically make myself go there. I remember stopping at the corner near the store and almost wanting to turn back when I saw the long line of customers outside. The sight of all those people standing there in the distance kinda freaked me out. The last time I was walking down a street and had to pass a massive horde of people waiting outside a pub, I was so put off by seeing such a large group that I had to cross over to the opposite side of the street. I eventually got on the line at Wowfulls, though I felt out of place because I was one of the few people that were waiting alone and without a friend to keep me company. It took about an hour and a half before I even reached the inside of the store and got my order taken.
There are some perks of hanging out by myself sometimes, like being able to go wherever I want and not having to worry that the people I’m with won’t enjoy going to the same place. I knew about the store’s grand opening days in advance, too, but I was too hesitant to ask any friends or acquaintances if they wanted to come along for the trip. Without even asking anyone first, I already assumed no one would be interested in the event. I also think I was too afraid to find out because what’s more nerve wrecking than inviting someone and the person turning me down is when the offer is accepted and I spent the hours before the meetup agonizing about spending time with the person and/or just how socially clumsy I will be.
I began to get nervous the closer the line inched to the counter where I would be placing my dessert order. The food concept of Wowfulls is a grilled egg waffle wrapped in a cone and it’s stuffed with your choice of ice cream filling and toppings that come with pocky sticks. If you’ve ever had a crepe, it looks similar in shape to the Wowfulls dessert. I felt anxious about talking to the cashier. The overhead menu looked simple enough with instructions about how to tailor my order, but I still ended up asking the counter lady for help. A few times she didn’t hear me clearly when I spoke because it was quite noisy as it was with so many waiting customers cramped in such a small store, but the bad part of me kept insisting to myself that she couldn’t hear me because I was doing a poor job of speaking loudly.
After that, I waited more than 10 minutes for my order to be prepared. There was the line for customers to have their orders taken and another semi-line for people to wait to get their food. In addition to that, any remaining standing space near the counter tables lining the walls and windows was taken up by people who were eating or taking photos of their food.
I’m not claustrophobic, but it did bother me somewhat that people were standing so close to me. Like this guy who was in line behind me with his friends, yet he kept standing directly at my left, which made it look like he was with me instead of them. I get that there was not standing enough room inside the store so he probably had to squeeze in near me, but even outside on the line, he kept standing next to me on the sidewalk. That bothered me more than it should have, but I value and need my personal space. Even at home when my dad reaches over me to grab something from a cabinet instead of asking me to move aside, I feel internally violated on some level and repulsed that someone got that close to me.
Then came the moment I finally got my order and had to mumble apologies as I cut past people in order to exit the store. Outside, I was surprised by a man who asked if he could take a photo of my dessert, which I didn’t mind. People on the line outside were curiously looking my way as this went on. I waited until I rounded the corner and sat down on a bench to snap my own photo, away from prying eyes.
The looks that my colorful snack was drawing from people who were walking past me made me feel sheepish, especially as I was eating it. It can be challenging, as someone who has social anxiety and can overthink a lot, to not presume that people have ulterior motives towards me. I get it, people see something that perks their attention and they automatically want to look at it. That’s the rational side of me talking. The crazy anxiety induced part of me thinks people are looking at me while secretly thinking unkind things about me.
One of my favorite places to visit on my own is a cafe or coffee shop. I usually settle for Starbucks because I love their vanilla iced coffee and like sitting at their counter table near the windows so I glance out as I sip my drink. Going to Wowfulls was such a big deal not only because I went on my own but it was an entirely new establishment I have never gone to before. I still pass by many places nowadays; treat shops, clothing stores, food stops that I’d very much like to explore but am too intimidated to step into. It’s not so much that I believe the employees will be mean to me if I go in, but more like my own automatic assumption, things are already going wrong even before I make it past the door.
I haven’t quite grown comfortable with my alone time. I do enjoy it when I know I’m taking the time to have fun on my own and there’s nothing wrong with that. The negative is when I’m purposely on my own because I want to avoid people and don’t want to interact with them socially because I’m scared of them.