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 when 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 is me.
But as you rewatch an ungodly amount of wholesome nineties 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, of course, that watching Gilmore Girls constitutes being pathetic, that would be sacrilege).
We all want to feel like we should be able to cut it alone, but that's easier said than done
It's our instinct to band together and forms 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 realizations that we must come to alone. Not just when we are on our own, but when we feel at our lowest or 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.
We ask ourselves: how long is it acceptable to be single for?
Answer: as long or short as we need
There's no rush! While you wait around for a relationship to come to you, why not start some productive self-care practices…
1. 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 judgment, 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, and 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 realizing that retrospectively, but next time you will be able to know what you do and don't like and act accordingly.
2. Put on an ABBA soundtrack and dance around in your underwear with a glass of wine – alter the album and alcohol to your taste, and it's 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 single. Not only that, but you can engage with your own needs and realize that you don't have to exist just as a half of a relationship or player in a group dynamic. When you give yourself the credit of being a whole human being, you recognize that you have needs and that you also have the means to satisfy them.
Furthermore, you only get one life
Yes, I know that sounds like something that would be on a poster in your high school guidance counselor's office, but am I wrong? You need to be willing to fall flat on your face in this world to reap the rewards of your endeavors. If you're playing it safe and comfortable in relationships where you aren't happy, you're only wasting your time and playing yourself.
I'll say it again: you are worth more than your current relationship might have you believe.
Think about what you want, then go and find it
There are so many self-care or self-help books out there that operate under the guise of improving us. Of elevating our identity and crystallizing into something more ideologically secure, consistent, and productive. There are so many means of approaching ways to improve our emotional wellbeing, mental health, physical fitness, and overall social prospects. It can get super overwhelming. You aren't alone in thinking that. Particularly when entering the office of your guidance counselor in high school when the walls were pasted top to bottom with naff inspirational posters and placards. 'It's not about the destination. It's about the journey'. Or 'things that are hard are worth fighting for'. The old faithful: 'Life isn't a competition'.
Honestly, I'm sure all of these epithets are true, but that's not to say that there isn't more informative, helpful advice out there. Like, there's a reason the clichés exist – because they're solid – but I can do better.
So I ask you, my implied audience, a question. What's gold dust?
The art of not caring.