I roll over and reach for my phone to check the time. 8:30. The perfect sleep in on a rare day off. My hand then travels automatically a little ways down the bed to land on the cat’s head. She chirps good morning, then stretches into a crescent moon so I can pat her tummy once, twice, three times. I smile as my day unfurls in front of me. No work. No plans. No obligations. Just me, spending my time however I want to spend it. Bliss.
These little moments are curious. They remind me I am waking up alone for the umpteenth morning in a row, but I am not devastated by it. Quite the opposite, in fact. There is a certain solace in being alone. When people say they can’t stand being by themselves, that the thought of being in their own company is terrifying, it really gives me pause. You are all you have in any truly consistent way, and learning to enjoy the time you spend in your own company is an integral part of life. It is something that I have learned in these two years of being single—the longest I’ve been single since I started dating in my early teens—and especially in these three months of living alone.
It is a joy and a pleasure to do things at your own pace, to make decisions with only your own wants and needs in mind. Being alone forces you to rely on yourself in ways you may never have considered before. Sure, it comes with its own set of challenges. You have to do the vacuuming every single time, and if you put it off, you might find yourself suffocating under a pile of cat hair and lint far sooner than you thought possible…
But sitting with yourself, eating with yourself, dancing around the apartment in your underwear with yourself… it is so, so healing, and freeing, and ultimately life-changing. When we are in relationships, we have a habit of taking on characteristics of our partners, often subconsciously. We make decisions as a collective, and since we are in fact two separate entities, this can mean that one person’s needs aren’t being given the consideration they deserve. Or, worse, being forgotten entirely. People talk about losing themselves in love, and if you had asked me a few years ago, I would have said that was just the way it was, even that it was sweet and romantic, that you and your partner somehow “completed” each other… as if you weren’t whole to begin with. Aye, there’s the rub.
You are a whole person, and if you rely on other people to validate your existence, you need to take a step back and reflect. If you are holding trauma, your reality here may be very different, and that’s okay. But for the average person: it is easy to fall into a pattern of external validation that can become quite unhealthy. It’s okay to love being in love, to spend a lot of time with your partner, even to tell the same jokes they do. But it is so important not to let go of yourself entirely, and to regularly hold space for you. Do things purely because they make you happy, and don’t you dare feel guilty about it. Eat a giant bowl of popcorn for dinner. Watch that terrible reality TV show. Paint your nails a garish colour. Take photos of every meal. Buy your cat a hoodie. If it brings you pleasure and it isn’t harming anyone (including yourself), for goodness’ sake, do it.
If you have a partner and they judge you for doing things just for you, they have a lot to learn: but it’s a two-way street. Your partner may enjoy waking up before the sun every day to surf for two or three hours, or staying awake shooting zombies well into the night, or (heaven forbid) watching sportsball on the TV. Jokes aside, everyone deserves these moments to just be with themselves, and they should be encouraged and supported.
One of the joys of being alone is that every day is full to the brim with these moments, and the only opinion that matters is your own. Love is wonderful, relationships can be wonderful, but don’t forget about nurturing your loving relationship with yourself. Trust me when I say it will help you bloom beyond imagining. ♥
What is your favourite thing about being alone?
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