We all want to feel like we should be able to cut it alone, but that's easier said than done
But the truth is we all need to be brave. Or braver. Not in a lion-taming way, but in the way where we actually prioritize ourselves and act in our own self-interest. That's what self-care really is, not anything you can buy in the shops.
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. You need to be brave and say no to socializing sometimes. I don't mean that you need to be brave and jump out of a plane, or even too far out of your comfort zone. Being brave here just means that you can risk disappointing people, or letting them down in order to look after yourself. It may seem alien and like you're withdrawing your friendship, but in reality, people cancel on you all the time, it just never occurred to you that 'we' were allowed to. Of course, we are! Be brave, risk doing something that isn't exactly what is convenient for everyone else.
You need to be brave to be alone, but it's worth it. You might even realize that you can still be happy with just yourself. Hopefully, you will realize that 'just myself' is more than good enough company to keep.
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 just 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.
Being alone means finding time to go for a walk without having to talk to anyone or see anyone you know. Maybe put on a podcast or your favorite album from the noughties. You may find yourself walking home via the shops with baking supplies and the wholesome flow of your alone time will grow more and more appealing the more you lean into it. Trust me.
Saying 'no' is a big, brave, adult skill. Learn it
I have news for you here: you exist as a valid person in your own right, not just when you are with someone in a relationship. You will learn this if you take a week off social media and let yourself just be. You can walk along your local seaside, feel the wind in your hair and the sun on your face - and then probably the mud on your ankles and the sand in places it really shouldn't be! You will laugh at this and realize that you can laugh just for yourself. You are funny even alone - you don't need other people to prove this.
You don't need to perform for anyone when you're with yourself. Or be the 'right person'. This means you can be yourself, which is, of course, is the right person for you. You need these times, otherwise one very quickly realizes that the 'right' person has got lost in all the other people we pretend to be.
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...
Take time for yourself
Take breaks from social media. Go on a walk. Listen to music. Join a yoga class. Learn a new language. Take up an online course.
This is particularly relevant as we enter a new year, a new decade - or frankly, any new day can be a new start. Prioritize yourself, and make plans to not have plans. Just because you are on your own, doesn't mean that you need to compensate by filling that space with distractions or social obligations. Listen to some music, watch that film you never got around to seeing in the cinema - dust off the yoga mat and stretch out. Listen to what you need. It might not be as fancy as yoga-like on TV, it does require bravery to be alone with your thoughts. But you need to, otherwise, you will forget they're there at all.
Also, you will know when you're tapping out of social interactions, so don't force them. When your heart is hurting there will come a time when you're ready to talk about it and see your friends again, but you need to sit with yourself first. Figure out what life means to you first, you are after all, who it is actually happening to. You don't even need to feel compelled to tell everyone in your life everything that happens. Some things are sacred, just for us.
In this spirit, even when you are alone, you can never be lonely - you have yourself!