I don’t know if it’s having an independent personality that makes it easy for me to say this, or if it’s just because I’ve always been a natural introvert, but I’ve always felt it’s so important to embrace being alone instead of being afraid of it.
I’d like to point out right away that being alone is very different to being lonely; you can be alone and still feel support from a strong, loving network of family, friends and co-workers around you. Being lonely sucks and can wreck havoc on your mental health, and I don’t think there’s a soul out there who likes to feel lonely.
But feeling comfortable and confident enough to be happy left alone with just yourself for company is, for me, one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever given myself.
I think growing up an only child really planted the seed. I didn’t have siblings to play – or fight! – with. I didn’t have an older brother to sneak me out and take me to cool places when I was too young to go on my own, or a little sister to fuss over and take care of. I spent hours as a kid making up my own imaginary games or reading quietly to myself and it taught me to be totally cool with my own company.
I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with being a social butterfly either; I often wish I was more extroverted and there have definitely been situations where this “only child syndrome” has held me back.
But throughout my life I’ve met so many people who, for whatever reason – insecurity, anxiety, uncertainty, instability, dependency – think that being alone is the worst thing that could happen. I’ve known people who have put themselves in dangerous situations just because they’d rather be with someone who isn’t good for them than no-one at all.
It’s hard to admit. It’s even harder to overcome. Sometimes it’s damn near impossible to actually realise you’re in that predicament in the first place, because being in a bubble with someone, even if it’s an unhappy bubble, is easier than bursting out and facing the world alone.
And, hey, that’s a legitimate fear. The world is a scary place, especially when you’re braving it on your own. The last person you’d want to be left out here alone with is someone you don’t trust, understand or love – and what do you do if that person is yourself?
But the first step towards embracing who you are is getting to know yourself when it’s just you. Alone. No facade, no showing off, no pretending. When you can just sit quietly by yourself and feel at home, that’s when you really get to know who you are.
There are loads of reasons people don’t like being alone, and that’s fine. But if you’re scared of being alone, I’m here to tell you that you really don’t need to be. No-one knows you better than you, no-one can guide and support you better than you, no-one knows how to care for you better than you.
Stepping out into the big, wide world alone is super daunting but, trust me, YOU GOT THIS. Have faith in you.