Learning to Be Alone
A guide to finding yourself in the loneliness.
When I was 14 I got my first boyfriend, we dated for four years, he broke my heart.
I dated another guy at 18, for a year and a half, we lived together, I broke up with him.
At 21 I found an amazing man, he makes my heart skip a beat.
See, I have only ever dated three men, but I have been in a relationship ever since I was a kid.
Growing up dating and always being with someone makes being independent hard. It was until a little over a year ago, when I broke up with my second boyfriend, that I learned what it was like to be alone.
At first I surrounded myself with friends and Tinder dates, but slowly I realized that there was more to life than being surrounded by people who barely knew you.
I found a quote that resonated with me…
"Be alone. Eat alone, take yourself on dates, sleep alone. In the midst of this you will learn about yourself. You will grow, you will figure out what inspires you, you will curate your own dreams, your own beliefs, your own stunning clarity, and when you do meet the person who makes your cells dance, you will be sure of it, because you are sure of yourself."
I took this quote quite literally and followed it closely for about a year. Being single and not having many friends made the whole “being alone” part pretty easy, but it took time before the feeling of loneliness dissipated.
I took myself out for dinner, for lunch, I ate by myself for almost every meal. I cooked myself romantic dinners and had conversations with myself.
You heard me right, I talk to myself, but I'm not crazy. See, I have come to fully believe that the most interesting person you can speak with is yourself, there is so much about you that you have not discovered yet; ask yourself the questions you want to find in others and discover your own answers.
I think the hardest part is sleeping alone; after you have slept in the embrace of another person, it is hard to move past that… but it's possible.
My current partner and I are long distance. We only share a bed every few weeks, so I am alone at night quite often.
I have learned to cherish this time, my bedroom is my sanctuary, only those who I trust are now welcome. At night is when I have had the most intimate conversations with myself, the most vulnerable of my thoughts reside in my room. It is my space. I do not need the warmth of another person to make my space special.
In this loneliness I have learned about myself in ways I could never have learned with another person and I find beauty in this.
Of course I love my significant other dearly, but the reason I am able to love him in the ways I do is because I have learned to love myself.
Just like it is said in this quote,
“You will grow, you will figure out what inspires you, you will curate your own dreams, your own beliefs, your own stunning clarity”
When I found this quote a little over a year ago, I had faith that this would help me grow in a way I was unable to in a relationship.
I started going to church alone every Sunday. At this time I was single for the longest I have been since I was 14… that's insane. I was just starting to grieve the loss of my mother from three years prior, and the recent loss of my grandmother.
I realized that I was seeking comfort in other people when I should be finding it in myself. This was the hardest part. I cried alone a lot, the type of crying where you’re silent, where even if you tried words wouldn’t come out, where eventually the tears stop flowing because you’ve cried so much. In this I felt a sort of relief. I had never had the opportunity to experience on my own.
It is much like when a parent is teaching an infant self comfort when the infant is crying in their crib but the parent waits it out. This teaches the child to calm themselves down. The older we get, we seem to forget this very simple teaching. We look to others for the comfort we were able to give ourselves before we could even process basic thoughts.
Human beings are social creatures, we need human connection to literally stay alive, but we sometimes put too much emphasis on it that we lose sight in our independence.
You can be alone and not be lonely, you can be in a group of people and not feel fulfilled, this is because there is a balance to everything in life.
I can stay home, by myself, and enjoy my own company. I have found that I am happiest when I have time to recharged on my own, whether I have spent the weekend at my significant other's side, or gone out with friends two days in a row. I could have the best time with them and still need alone time.
An issue I have encountered since entering into my relationship is that society makes it seem like when you’re in a relationship, you have to be fully engulfed in said relationship.
I used to believe this, I used to think I had to be in constant communication with my significant other, otherwise we wouldn’t last. Let me tell you this is far from the truth. My failed relationships both involved almost constant communication, yet there were still trust issues and resentment.
Now I trust that my significant other is being faithful and loyal to me. I trust that he loves me, and I believe him when he tells me so.
The lack of communication during the week or two we are apart creates a desire to listen more when we are together. If you are giving someone a play by play of your day, everyday, you are not focused on the right now.
It is okay to want to be alone sometimes, and I feel as though we all forget that, when it comes to social media and “FOMO.” We are constantly seeing what we are missing out on when we choose ourselves. I know a year ago I wouldn’t be able to say no to plans even if I didn’t want to go, because I didn’t want to be left out.
Now I happily decline if that means I get to focus on me and enjoy my little sanctuary, with some wine, a bubble bath, and a book. I will forever choose myself over any plans that will not benefit me. You should try it, I highly recommend.