I firmly believe there is an art to being single. Learning to love yourself, learning to feel whole with just you, and learning that spreading your wings and gracefully flying solo does not preclude you from doing the things that other people usually do in pairs.

This is why I’m sitting in the middle of a busy restaurant packed with families, friends, and couples happily enjoying my cheeseburger and chocolate shake with…just me. And why I am taking myself to go see Les Mis once the last drop of this shake is gone, where I will likely tear up and sigh in raptured delight as I listen to the beautiful heart wrenching tale that never ceases to move me.

It’s date night. With myself.

There’s a stigma attached to being alone that assumes you must be “lonely.” Alone is often equated with isolation, rejection, discomfort, and loneliness, and for the individual who is by them self- whatever their reasons may be- it is easy to pick up this stigma and wear it like a terrible cloak of sad little dark shame. If you are by yourself than that must mean nobody wants to be with you, right? The fear of judgement; that others will see you out alone and ascribe these lonely, miserable, pathetic qualities to you, becomes too daunting.

It is a heavy cloak to bear. Much easier to stay inside on nights like this ordering overpriced take out and turning on the gift of Netflix that just keeps on giving. And I might add that there is nothing wrong with that, because then you get to wear your favorite sweats and hang out with the best Dog ever in your warm comfy rainbow rooms. But sometimes, I also like to go out. It’s a great world out there with lots of neat stuff to do. Plus I really wanted a good cheeseburger. And I’m also dying to hear Anne Hathaway sing “I Dreamed a Dream” and find out if Russell Crow really can sing.

Obviously I reject the cloak of shame whole heartedly. I choose a more sanguine, rainbow cloaked view on life. I prefer the perspective that mysteriously smiles and tells others I am comfortable and happy with the company of myself, and sometimes even prefer it when I’m in need of self nurture time. I choose to be alone and to live life in a way that says I don’t need someone to LIVE fully.

Sometimes I’m surrounded by a someone or someones, and sometimes I’m not. Either way I am nurturing relationships: with others or with myself. Since I am always with me, it just makes good sense to consider this my most important relationship. You are for you. It’s empowering and freeing. I get to engage in all sorts of relationships for healthy reasons, and not because I’m placing expectations on someone else. Sometimes you just have to learn to hold your own hand. And buy yourself a cheeseburger.

So here I sit happily dipping my fries into an excess amount of ketchup and smiling at the sight of a little girl who is doing the same thing one table over. I’m in one of my favorite striped dresses and a new blouse I was saving for something special, which happens to be tonight. I’m by the window staring out at the inky black winter sky that holds a mystery of beauty and magic all it’s own, and I’m daydreaming about life, love, Hugh Jackman, and all the rainbows I have to chase.

And I’m content.