I’m not going to lie to you, guys, being alone is tough. Really tough. It’s also not helped by the changing seasons as the hot girl summer migrates into autumnal nostalgia. The leaves fall, the first rounds of gingerbread mochas are ordered, and the early notes of the Gilmore Girls theme rings out. Yes, it’s 2019 and your Lorelai still hasn’t found her Luke. Woe.
However, as you rewatch an ungodly amount of wholesome noughties feel-good television and consume an entire pint of Ben & Jerry’s it will occur to you that you don’t want to feel sad and alone. You might be single, but it doesn’t mean you have to be sad or pitiful (not that watching Gilmore Girls constitutes being pathetic, that would be sacrilege).
Don’t we need other people?
Well, yes – sometimes. But realistically, we all want to feel like we should be able to cut it alone, but that’s easier said than done. It’s our natural instinct to band together and form communities around adversity. But not always. Sometimes, it’s the lone wolves that, through necessity, grow stronger and more resilient than the pack wolves with a soft underbelly.
While I love a pep-talk with my mum as much as the next gal, there are some realisations that we must come to alone. This isn’t just when we are physically on our own. In reality, it’s when we feel at our lowest or like we’re drifting away that can often bring the greatest perspective and clarity. It’s a long journey and there isn’t necessarily a specific end-goal in learning to be comfortable alone, but it’s so worth it if you feel even slightly more self sufficient.
Why is it important to operate alone sometimes?
Well, not to sound like a snarling Batman villain from the 60s, but sometimes people are trash and crush your spirit. Indeed, if you are surrounded by people that you seek validation from in order to inform your sense of self then you are giving them immense power over your identity. As such, whether or not they know it, they impact and distort your daily life because you feel tethered to their opinion of you. The true killer blow is that you can’t even blame them, because they likely won’t even be aware of the power that you give them over you.
I have news for you: you exist as a valid person in your own right. Not just how you are perceived through the lens of another person’s perspective.
As such, here are 5 surprising ways in which we can relearn to live independently of other people, and try to refocus our own lives:
1. Make time for yourself, alone
This is sort of an obvious one, but a key first step that must be negotiated nonetheless. Here, you have to get over, or make the first step towards overcoming, the fear of missing out. Even if your friends are headed to the club or having a bonding session at paintball (or whatever you youths are doing these days), you need to know your limits and prioritise yourself. Don’t just pencil yourself in; put a sharpie through the week! This may seem extreme, but it will take you a while to settle into being alone and getting back into your headspace. So feel free to put your phone on silent so as to minimise distractions. You may even want to communicate to your friends that you’re taking some ‘me time’, and they should respect your wishes and give you ample space.
2. Check in with your hobbies and entertainment preferences
Even though your friends used to scoff at your earnest love of Harry Potter and Stranger Things in favour of the latest gritty drama, reclaim your passions! Without the threat of other people’s shame or judgement, you will find that you can unapologetically enjoy your true taste in music, film or podcasts. You won’t feel the pressure to consume politically-charged, ‘woke’ or emotionally intense entertainment if that’s not your scene. You will find that you were probably less comfortable with the Game of Thrones film nights than you thought at the time. There’s nothing wrong with realising that retrospectively, but next time you will be able to know what you do and don’t like and act accordingly.
3. Put on an ABBA soundtrack and dance around in your underwear with a glass of wine
Substitute the album and alcohol to your taste, and it’s also worth checking the apartment is empty before you strip off. However, after these checks, there is something truly liberating about leaping around with reckless abandon, shouting out the lyrics to a song you forgot you knew the lyrics to, and literally stripping back the layers of stress around you. Yes, having a significant other is great and emotionally satisfying, but you can still have great fun while single. Not only that, but you can engage with your own needs and realise that you don’t have to exist just as a half of a relationship, or just a player in a group dynamic. When you give yourself the credit of being a whole human being, you will recognise that you have needs, and that you also have the means to satisfy them.
4. Try something new
This doesn’t have to be too intensive or socially bewildering – you can be as ambitious as you wish. Maybe YouTube a meditation video, or go to a HIIT workout, or even go on a walk in the morning with a rogue podcast. Perhaps you will take up kickboxing, or crochet. Or, you’ll start reading or writing again. The goal is to surprise yourself and expand your horizon of expectations. You will expand your comfort zone, and even if you’re rubbish at the new skills, no one is around to witness it. You can give yourself permission to be bad at things. Importantly, however, with only you present, you can improve and build up these skills without judgement. In fact, it’s great if you can laugh at yourself! It helps with the moments that make you want to cry.
5. Learning that you are imperfect and that it’s fine.
There’s not much I need to add to that one. Through constantly comparing ourselves to the people around us and testing our success against impossible standards, we can never win. We never give ourselves chance to if we think we might fall short, or not be immediately great at something new. More still, the implicit peer pressure and feelings of guilt that comes with constantly surrounding yourself with people who are at different stages of their lives than you is crippling over time. Try to escape those situations.
It is a fact universally known that the cruellest and most vicious person you will ever experience, is yourself.
Therefore, it stands to reason that so long as you can endure your own company (or even enjoy it!), who is there left to impress?
The long and short of it? You are the most important person to yourself. Treat yourself as such and get to know yourself so that you can love yourself.