I used to feel like I needed another person to feel stable and okay in life. This pattern was harmful and eventually, I had to learn to be alone. Being single was one of the best things to happen to me because it taught me that love is about so much more than a romantic partner. Love is about self-esteem, adoration for the world around me, joy shared with loved ones, and a connection with the divine. Being alone has taught me that love is about experiencing the spectrum of experiences life has to offer. The more I practice acceptance around the single life, the greater appreciation I gain for all the ways I love.
If it isn’t a hell yes, it’s a hell no. In my dating life and everywhere else, I’m learning to stop saying “yes” to experiences that my intuition is telling me to avoid. This is as easy as saying no to an invite I’m not interested in and as difficult as saying no to someone who’s really attractive, but not a fit. I’ve learned that since I’m truly awesome, I only want to welcome experiences and people I also feel are truly awesome. If my entire being isn’t screaming “YES!” then the answer is an unapologetic “no.”
I offer the gift of presence. For all those years, I was so wrapped up in romantic relationships that I wasn’t present for the rest of my life. I’d show up to hang out with friends and I’d be thinking and talking about my newest fling. Instead of that old pattern, being alone has taught me that wherever I go, there I am. For example, I actually listen when I ask a friend how she’s doing. There’s nowhere else to be, so I do my best to be present for myself and those around me.
I have a solid sense of self. In recent, healthier years, I’ve acted as if I’m in a relationship with myself: giving myself space, love, and attention. I’ve learned about my likes and dislikes. As a result, I’m less likely to be swept away by a toxic or incompatible person and I’m more likely to have a stable sense of self to keep returning to when life gets tough.
My life is AWESOME. I’m not saying that partners don’t help make my life awesome. I definitely wish I had one. But, one of the benefits of being alone is that I get to do whatever the hell I want, whenever the hell I want. I play street hockey, have multiple jobs, have tons of awesome friends, and I have all the hobbies in the world. I can spend my Saturday afternoon taking a two-hour nap or flirting with a cute girl at the coffee shop, and no one will be bothered either way.
My worth isn’t tied to people or circumstances. Being alone has taught me a hard, but important lesson: at the end of the day, I am the one I’m going to spend the rest of my life with. With this information, I’ve gained a sense of self-worth that is fueled by self-love and care. I know that the faces and experiences around me will change, but I’ll always bring myself to the table, so it’s important that I love myself unconditionally.
I know how to ask for help. I had to learn the very hard lesson that I could not do this whole “life” thing on my own. My partner used to be the first one I’d call when I was in a jam, but being alone has taught me that my friends and family are just as happy to be there for me as a loving partner would be. I just had to learn to ask for help.
I have a spiritual life. Let’s be real, it used to be the case that my partner was my spiritual life. They were my sky and my earth. Putting these expectations on another human being kept resulting in both of us getting hurt. Since I’ve spent plenty of time alone these past few years, I’ve learned to practice prayer and meditation and have touched into a deep connection with the divine. This connection fuels me, gives me an unwavering sense of purpose and self, and keeps me connected to my fellow humans.
I don’t always have to scratch the itch of loneliness. Being alone has resulted in inevitable bouts of loneliness leading to the desire to get lost in someone else. After many attempts to ease loneliness by using someone I knew wasn’t a good fit, I’ve begun to learn that I have a choice. Loneliness is like an itch. If I scratch, there’s a good chance it will get worse. If I leave it alone, it will go away. In this way, I try to practice love for myself and respect for others by not using them to scratch the itch.
I have more clarity. In the hookup culture we live in, it’s common to get physical quickly. The immediate intimacy used to cloud my judgment, so I couldn’t discern whether I liked the person or just the endorphins. Being alone, I have much more space between my thoughts. I can act out of a place of clarity rather than impulsiveness. And when I do find myself driven by intoxicating desire because I slept with someone on a first date, or kissed someone I thought was just a friend, I’m more familiar with the place of clarity. I can return there quicker than I could before.
I have a deep understanding that humans are gloriously messy.My favorite author, Elizabeth Gilbert, said: “Embrace the glorious mess that you are.” Being alone has taught me to give hugs to all those imperfectly messy parts of myself. This concept has taught me to forgive myself when I get wrapped up in a codependent interaction or fall for an emotionally unavailable person. Offering myself this gentleness has also allowed me to extend it to those around me, finding the humor and beauty in the messiness we humans bring into relationships.