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Every so often I decide to treat myself to something. Sometimes it’s a movie. Sometimes it’s dinner. Sometimes it’s a cup of yum at a coffee shop. Yesterday it was breakfast at IHOP’s.

Every time I do these things, I inevitably receive a look. This look says “You poor thing, all on your own, can’t get anyone to join you.” There is always the question when at an eating establishment, “Just you?” or “Only you?”, and these are always asked in a surprised or pitying voice. It bothers me that we have placed these rules on everyone about how eating out or going to the movies should be done.

If anything, the looks and questions tells me more about them than my choosing to be alone tells them about me. I am in a relationship. A happy one. I also have kids. And friends. And family. But sometimes, I just need time with me.

I go out alone because I like me. I like spending time with myself. I find eating alone to be freeing. I enjoy my own company. I don’t have to depend on other people to have a good time. I am fully capable of having a blast, without needing a witness to it.

Hellooooo, I did go to the Texas Showdown Festival on my own, just so I could see a band I love. Could I have gotten someone to go with me? Certainly. But sometimes, I like to experience the world and its offerings all on my own. I’m perfectly fine with being the only witness to my own happiness.

Maybe this is my independent streak. Maybe it’s my inner rebel raising her fist to the stereotypes that society tries to force upon her.

But it never feels like that to me. To me it feels like spending time on someone who needs my attention the most. Myself. In order to love the way I do, to love the people I do, requires that I also love myself. In turn this requires that I spend time on, and with, myself.

I tend to place myself on the back burner more often than not. Not because it is required of me, not because I am a rug. I will let those in my world heap their troubles onto me, because I know I can take the added weight. And I know I can handle being last in line, and the added weight of my loved ones problems, because I know who I am. I am comfortable in who I am. I love the person I am. And when I need to lay the weight down and move to the front burner, I know I will do it. Then I can pick the weight back up, and it’s not nearly as heavy anymore.

Instead of judging that woman or man for choosing to eat or enjoy a movie on their own, ask yourself why it bothers you so much to see someone else be comfortable enough to do these activities alone. Maybe you’ll learn something about the person you are, and see that maybe you need to spend some time with yourself. Become a witness to your own happiness. Your needs, likes, and desires matter too, and it’s perfectly okay to deliver them to yourself.