We’re all scared to be alone. I know too many people who stay in relationships, friendships, companionships because they’re too afraid of being alone… and I’ve been there too. I have SO been there. Its confronting, painful and somber but what no one tells you about loneliness is that it’s the best way to get to know yourself (I’m talking a Buddha level of self-enlightenment … sounds good right?).
My first love was a bit of an asshole (surprise right). Cheating, lying, selfish… but even though I knew all of this, I stayed (and stayed, and stayed). I genuinely thought that the pain I was feeling by staying with him, arguing every week, stressed about the texts he was getting and the nights he was out, was far less than the pain of being alone. The sad thing about my story is that so many women are staying and staying for the same reason. To all of you ladies who are staying because you’re too scared to be alone … LEAVE IMMEDIATELY. Being alone is the best thing I ever did for myself. It has changed my life in ways I couldn’t comprehend at the time. So, let me tell you why I loved loneliness.
1. You learn resilience
I can remember finding out that my boyfriend had cheated on me again at 11pm on a Monday night. I was beside myself. I slapped him hard across the face, ran to my car crying and drove down to the beach. I sat there in my car with no one to call (everyone was asleep) and nowhere to go, so I just sat with my thoughts. The reason I remember that night so well is because that was the first time I had to work through my emotions on my own. Yes it was hard, yes I felt SO alone, I felt like no one loved me, I felt like a burden on society, I wished for a better life and a better boyfriend, I wished the stork would just come and pick me up and take me anywhere but where I was. But the best thing about that night was that I survived… the world didn’t end! Eventually I calmed down, stopped crying, drove home, had a shower and had the epic realisation that I didn’t actually need anyone… I could overcome all of this on my own. We broke up a few days later. I was stronger because I proved to myself that I could do anything on my own.
2. It makes you think
After the breakup I spent almost a year alone… of course I had roommates, friends and family. I was also dating at the time, but I still found myself spending quite a bit of time alone (most of my friends were in relationships which meant they were busy with their significant others). During this time I journaled and made lists about everything… things as trivial as my favorite films and restaurants through to my bucket list, what I was looking for in my next partner (what I wanted, but more importantly what I didn’t want) and what my passions in life were. Being alone allows you the time to get deeply in touch with yourself and figure out who you are and what you really want.
3. It reminds you to check in with yourself
Have you ever been in a crowded place but still felt lonely? You know you’re supposed to be having the best time, but you can’t shake the feeling. Sometimes in moments when should be happy or we have everything going for us, we still feel a little lonely. Sometimes this has nothing to do with the people and everything to do with other places where we’re lacking in fulfilment. Feeling lonely can just be a hint that it’s time for a change and being alone allows you the time to work through that feeling, it gives you time to break down that emotion one thought at a time to get to the bottom of why you’re feeling that way. Carl Jung aptly said “Loneliness does not always come from not having people around you, but from being unable to communicate things that feel most important to you”.
My final point and the one that rings the most true for me is this :
The capacity to be alone is the capacity to love… it may look paradoxical to you, but it’s not. Those people capable of being alone are more capable of love, of sharing, of going into the deepest core of another person – without possessing the other, without becoming dependent on the other, without reducing the other to a thing and without becoming addicted to each other. When you know that you can survive and be ok on your own… you stop depending on others. That’s when you truly become free.