Who knew loneliness and singledom could be so, well, fun?
As a writer, my mind can get very loud, so I’ve always used my alone time as an opportunity to make sense of it all.
I take myself on what I call “Me Days”. These days typically involve anything and everything. I explore. I wander. I discover new things or even rekindle my love for something I used to enjoy. It almost always ends with me in a quiet cafe – fountain pen in one hand, journal in the other – fastidiously writing down everything that I’m thinking about.
To me, solitude is a beautiful thing. I also think it’s severely underappreciated, especially in a world that seems built for two.
The idea that we need someone else to be whole is rather daunting to think about it, even downright frustrating. Most of the time though, I’m perplexed whenever people look at solitude unfavourably.
Which in some ways, I can understand. The scepticism around solitude generally correlates with a fear of judgement: what will others think if they see me dining solo? Is it weird if I go by myself to the cinema? Will people make fun of me if I’m spending Friday night alone?
I’ve done all of those things solo and let me tell you, it’s great fun. Especially because you don’t have to do anything out of obligation to someone else. If plans change, they change. No mess. No drama. The only person that has to be okay with it is you. I love that.
I think the scepticism around solitude stems from the uncertainty of our own self-consciousness. To be alone is to be one with your thoughts. For some, that’s scary. And in a world full of annual Valentine’s Day promotions, dating apps and countless articles on finding your better half – many of us just have no idea how to be alone, properly.
So we slide into the arms of others, trying to find comfort in these souls. We enter relationships that clearly won’t last or start hollow friendships devoid of any substance. When that’s over, the cycle repeats itself. And what an exhausting cycle that is.
But just as you can feel lonely around others, you can also feel content in your own company. The times that I’ve been alone have often been the most revealing experiences I’ve ever had. It’s actually how A/Manifesto came to fruition – in a moment of quiet, I decided I wanted to finally launch something of my own after creating content for so many other brands. It had to be raw. Honest. Avoided clickbait. Dug deep, rather than scratched the surface.
That said, I wasn’t always so adamant about spending time alone. There was a period in the past where I too looked at solitude as something negative.
There was a period in the past where I too looked at solitude as something negative.
I did the whole cycle. Read relationship advice columns. Did online quizzes. Downloaded a bunch of dating apps. Actual dating. Entered a relationship. Losing parts of myself in said relationship.
When it did all end, I had to rediscover parts of myself I had neglected in the midst of navigating the landscape as a twosome, rather than solo.
This journey of rediscovery not only helped me realise why solitude was so important, but it also shifted the way I approached relationships.
First, I clearly wasn’t ready for a serious relationship. That or, I shouldn’t actively be trying to pursue one. I’m somebody who goes hard or goes home, so in my search, get so invested to a point where I’ll neglect my own wellbeing. If ever a potential relationship emerges, it needs to happen naturally, not because I actively pursued one.
Second, rather than asking what someone can provide for me, I thought about what I can bring to a relationship.
Let’s be honest, we all have gigantic lists of qualities we want in a partner. Successful. Great job. Knows how to dress. Knows how to cook. Neatly trimmed beard a plus. Ideally has to be at least 180cm tall (or is that just me?). The list goes on.
But I asked myself: what can I bring to the table? What good qualities do I have that would work in harmony with someone else? It was during times of solitude that I reflected on these questions, coming to the realisation that I’m not satisfied with the depths of my qualities as a person just yet that they would warrant significant value in a relationship.
In other words, I needed more time to sort my shit out.
I don’t think I could have come to these conclusions were I in the presence of others.
As such, I bask in my alone time to say attuned to myself. In fact, I’m now fiercely protective of it.
It was through solitude that I learned I am my primary partner. Regardless of whether or not I’m dating, I need to be happy and content with myself. Any relationships that I have need to enhance that, not take away from it.
Many frame alone time as a selfish experience, and in some ways they are correct. You are, after all, doing things for yourself.
But rather than frame it as something negative, consider it an indulgence into self-care. When you think about it like that, it doesn’t seem like such a bad thing anymore, does it?
And if you’re reading this article wondering what the hell is my point, here’s a TL:DR summary: spend more time with yourself. Go to a restaurant on your own with a good book. Scream your lungs out at a concert solo. Book a staycation. Just be alone, even for a little bit.
You’ll find that once you start embracing solitude, it’s not as terrifying as the world led you to believe.