Being alone is especially hard when you’re feeling lonely, but it is those tough moments when taking ownership of being alone can lead you to a magical sanctuary of self-awareness and acceptance. Over time, that turns into self-love and that’s when life gets juicy.
I’m not gonna lie, it’s an extremely uncomfortable and vulnerable process that often times leads to some of the most guttural weeping I have ever experienced, but it really is such a blessing. It’s not the only way to cultivate self-love but it is, in my experience, the most tangible.
When I realized I needed to work on being OK with being alone, I didn’t know it would lead me down a path of self-discovery and self-love that I am still walking down today.
I started working on spending time alone when I moved across the country from a relatively small California suburb, to an east coast suburb of Philadelphia for college. I didn’t know anyone even remotely close to my new home, so to speak, and the privacy I was used to back home was stripped away when I was assigned a room with 6 other girls. Suffice to say, I was going through a lot of environmental changes and I felt a myriad of emotions about it that I couldn’t quite explain.
My journey to enjoying my time alone started with a lot of anxiety about what people might say or think about me being out alone. At first, I combated this by putting headphones in and always having something to do while out. Once I realized that in truth, I had no idea what other people thought of me and I really didn’t care to find out, I got more comfortable moving about on my own. That was easy enough when my solo adventures consisted of running errands and going on walks but it got 10x harder when I decided to go out out on my own.
At some point I decided to start going out to do things that I really wanted to try but that none of my friends were interested in. I have gone to clubs, raves, night art markets, tango classes, surfing lessons, and even tried several (fancy and not fancy) restaurants on my own at this point. I can’t even remember what it felt like to not try something I want to try because I have to do it alone anymore.
At first it was awkward and my anxiety about what others might say creeped back in, but the more I forced myself to sit with it and not give up, the more I got comfortable with examining my fears and anxieties. It was no longer a question of what others might think of me but rather why it mattered. Why did I care? What would come of it? Where did that fear come from?
The more I questioned it, the more I started to see my fear and anxiety as a personified part of me that I could converse with, and you know, she is really not that bad. As I kept challenging myself and getting to know her, I realized that she has always had unconditional love for me and really just wanted to spare me the heartache of rejection.
In accepting her, or more accurately, accepting myself and the parts of me I thought would not be accepted by others, I relieved her/myself of the emotional burden I was carrying. In caring enough to have these conversations I gave myself the love I had always craved from others in my life. In turn, I started forging truer and healthier connections with people because I didn’t rely on those connections for survival.
I do believe that community and communion is important and that as humans we need connection, but learning to build that connection with myself first has made all other interactions going forward more soulful. This is because I know myself better and I appreciate myself better.
I am a work in progress, still getting to know myself one moment at a time, but introspection has become second nature, and as a result, I understand and love myself more now than I ever have before.
Do you enjoy spending time alone, or is it difficult for you to do? - drop a comment below👇🏽