A few years ago, if you asked me to go somewhere or do something alone… well, I wouldn’t.
I’m not sure what it was, but back then I was always hesitant in doing things alone or being seen alone. I remember waiting (unnecessarily longer than expected) for a friend at the bar and being so uncomfortable being alone. I always reveled in other people’s perceptions of me that I created this layer of uncertainty and discomfort that made any situation being alone… awkward. In retrogress, I’d scoff at the old me.
Now, I absolutely love and value my alone time. It certainly takes character growth and/or life experiences to find comfort in solitude. People tend to have this notion that being alone means you’re lonely. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. There is something so serene in sharing that space with yourself, just doing things on your own, no questions asked. Whether it’s doing errands or just reading a book at a coffee place by yourself, it truly is a beautiful thing to be able to appreciate YOU and find strength in personal words of affirmation.
On my birthday this year, I had breakfast by myself in the hotel lobby and I enjoyed it. Some of you may know that I’ve had an emotional birthday week. My emotions were heightened, but I didn’t let them break me. It didn’t matter that I was surrounded by couples and families; I was not phased one bit. However, I must disclose that I was also never as mentally capable as I am today. It took a lot of soul-searching and solo experiences for me to acclimate to my own path. As I was spreading my peanut butter onto my toast, I remember thinking to myself, Wow! Look at how much I’ve grown.
Was I always the girl who needed to be in a relationship or who needed to go out every single night with friends to feel like I wasn’t alone? Sad to say, I was that girl. Back in freshman year of college, I settled. I settled HARD. I had FOMO, assumed everyone was my friend, assumed dates meant relationships, blah blah. I was naive and gullible. I let everyone define me with THEIR labels that I did not view myself as anything. Bottomline – I didn’t KNOW myself.
Although I am not proud of who I was back then, it led to this genuine organic growth. With every failed friendship and with every relationship fallout, I grew. Even for a little. I reflected, I pondered, I learned. Maybe, I even got a little bit
bitter and numb to my emotions. At that time, I thought being immune to my emotions meant I was growing, but little did I know, it really just takes balance. (Note: BAD emotions are emotions nonetheless. You don’t ALWAYS have to be happy all the time. Blog post on this soon!)
I started befriending new people, learned from them, found inspiration from books, podcasts, etc. It was hard work, and it was ONLY during a phase in my life where I felt absolutely forlorn where I started reaching out and finding ways to be okay with myself. Amidst the breakups, cutoffs, struggles, and tears, I started taking the time to really dig deep and find that perfect serenity on top of everything else that day. Instead of letting my to-do lists drown me, I use them to inspire me to MAKE time for myself.
If you can’t accept yourself or be okay with just hanging out with you, how do you expect others to do so? Whatever you want others to do or how you want them to perceive you – begins with YOU. We tend to underestimate our power and control, and that should be our first step in learning how to be alone. I still have my fair share of days where I absolutely self-destruct with MY own words. I’d call myself fat, lack self-confidence, and yearn for other people’s words of affirmations; I basically devalued my own perception of myself. Self-love + self-awareness is so sacred to me now that even though I’m currently still adopting habits on how to be comfortable in my own skin, I am mentally stronger each day.
While I’m still working on the way I talk to myself, I’ve come a long way and I must say, self-acceptance should be everyone’s main goal every single day. This change is not instantaneous, but that is the beauty of it. Learning on your own timeline is a great investment. So while this is still an ongoing process, it was during that moment in time where I enjoyed breakfast in my own company that I found self-love. My appreciation for alone time may have rooted from horrific circumstances, but those experiences were surprisingly gratifying as they led me to foster my independence. Get out of your comfort zone, go on a hike, sit at the bar, read a book at the park, go to a movie… ALL by yourself. Stick post-its all over your mirror and set timers on your phone throughout the day for the occasional pep talk. You’d be surprised at this weird twist of how you view yourself and the world, just by doing things alone. Finding comfort being alone did not come easy, but it was one of the greatest things I’ve ever achieved. Take your time in getting to know yourself and I promise, the rest shall follow.