Mind, Love, Advice, Wellness

Why spending time alone is the best gift of self-love you can give yourself

How I learned to let solitude spark joy in my life.

Solitude is one of my demons. Living and dying alone is one of my worst nightmares and to avoid this, I constantly surround myself with people and events to keep myself busy. When I’m alone, I become aimless, I watch too much television, and I get bored. I’m an unhealthy person and I have bad habits. Having people around me gives me some accountability and some way to measure my worth. As someone with a lot of issues with confidence, this is a constant worry.

A few months ago I wrote an article about how being a serial monogamist taught me independence. I still believe that this is true but believe me, I also see the irony there. As it turns out, sometimes life hands you the tools you need when you least expect it. That manifested for me this past year in the form of forced solitude. My fiancé works in the nature and reality TV industry and as a result, he has been traveling of late every few months for film shoots, leaving me to my own devices.

During the past few trips, I’ve found myself falling back on my bad habits. What I’ve come to realize as I emerge from a three hour Parks and Recreation binge session or an afternoon of phone scrolling, is that none of this makes me happy. All I feel after is brain-tired and lazy. This month, my partner is going away for a 10 day work trip to the Bahamas. As jealous as I am, I’m also determined that I will make the most of my time, not just because I want and need to be productive but because it’s important for my mental health. I’m looking forward to it as a chance to spend some time alone, get to know myself and increase my self-love, and tackle some goals.

Being alone doesn’t have to mean you are lonely. If you’re like me and are looking for ways to take some time to yourself, there are many ways to enjoy your solo time. I plan to take a note from Marie Kondo and tidy my bedroom and my side of the living room in our shared apartment. Seeing all those neatly folded clothes and decluttered areas can be a joyful, fulfilling moment.

As a freelancer, I have quite a few professional (and personal) ongoing projects. I plan to take a day or two to work on my novel or write some poetry. I will meet with a friend to go over long term goals, which technically isn’t a solo activity but I will be doing some thinking on my own, thanks to this helpful guide, YearCompass

I love going to the movies, but I hardly ever go for a variety of reasons including my fiancé’s long weekly commute, which makes him get home late and because I feel stigmatized for going alone. We’re socialized to think of going to the movies as a group or date activity. But, really what’s wrong with enjoying a movie all by yourself? I will buy myself some popcorn or candy without having to ask someone else’s opinion about which one to buy, I will choose whatever movie I want to see, and I will sit back and enjoy it.

When I return home, I won’t sigh and look sadly at an empty room. Instead, I will either get into bed and read or watch one (maybe two max!) episodes of TV, while working on my knitting instead of scrolling through Instagram on my phone. I’ll turn off the tv and turn in for the evening because I know I deserve a good night’s sleep and watching hours of TV may fill my time but it won’t make me happier. I deserve to treat myself better.