Learn to Be Alone | Choose Joy

True story: I once knew a girl who could not be alone. From about age 14 onward she always had a boyfriend. Always. You probably know a person like that, a person who has no idea how to be alone, who equates alone with lonely, who values her(or him)self based solely upon her relationship status.

There’s danger in this, though. You are no longer a “you,” you’re a “them.” You don’t have an identity outside of being a couple. You don’t know who you are because you never had to figure it out.

In honor of National Singles Day, let me be the first to tell you that being in a relationship does not make you a better person (nor does it make you a worse one). There’s no shame in being single and unattached. And I’m not just saying this because I’m single as well (which I am). I’m not anti-relationship. In fact, I’d love to get married and have children, but I’m not going to base my personal identity and feelings of self-worth on a relationship that I do or do not have. You shouldn’t either. You’re awesome as you, everything and everybody else aside.

Tips on How to Be Alone

I’ve found that learning to be alone, learning to be satisfied sometimes with my own company, is so important. You start to know yourself on a deeper level. Maybe you’ll like what you find, maybe it’ll take a while to truly embrace yourself. If you don’t know how to be alone, let me give you a few tips (I have, after all, so much experience):

  • Go to a movie by yourself. This does not make you a loser regardless of what society would have you believe. You might be surprised by what you find. For instance, maybe you can only watch action movies with another person. Maybe you don’t really like romantic comedies. Who knows?
  • Turn off the music. Sometimes when I go running, I leave the headphones behind (but not the phone because I need something to track my distance). Or I drive somewhere and turn off the radio. Allow yourself just to think. You’re thoughts might surprise you. You work out a lot of crud when you have only yourself to talk to.
  • Have a conversation with yourself. Ask yourself a few questions. Like what’s your favorite color? Is it really blue or is that just something you tell people because you think you should like it? Maybe you really love black. No judgement. Think of these conversations as a date with yourself. Just don’t answer your silent questions aloud; people will stare and sidle away.
  • Treat yourself to dinner. Yes, it might seem super awkward to get a table for one. I actually wouldn’t know because I’m still working myself up to this. Going to a restaurant and then sitting there (sans computer) is super-intimidating to me. But then, maybe I’m just a wimp.
  • Pick up a hobby. Start something new, something not initiated by another person. Do it for yourself, and then do it with yourself.
  • Embrace nature. Nature speaks to the soul, so while hiking or enjoying a view with somebody might be nice, it’s the person inside that really matters. I’m not advocating hiking alone because that’s a cautionary tale (“Remember that girl who wanted to get to know herself so she went hiking alone…and never came back?”—just take all necessary precautions is all I’m saying).

Most importantly, remember that you are enough how you are. If you’re comfortable with yourself, people will sense this. Maybe then you can be an effective couple without losing your identity. Knowing yourself, really knowing and being comfortable in that knowledge, is essential to being happy. You can do it; find joy in yourself.

Choose Joy.

—A

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