I find the introverted lifestyle where one is veering more towards being a hermit than a social butterfly an interesting one. Although I now have a lovely partner of 3 years, most of my life was largely spent flying solo. At the beginning, it felt incredibly lonely. To me, being alone equated to loneliness. But as the years passed, I realised how happy you can be alone.
The problem with being alone for extensive periods of time is that you have to accept yourself – the bad as well as the good. There is no room for denial – there is far too much time to run away or distract yourself from the one person who you will carry with you through every thick and thin moment of life: Yourself.
I was one of those people who always wanted to be in a relationship. I wanted to explore the world and have fun experiences with a partner in crime. I wanted someone to hold me when I cried and tell me everything would be ok. I wanted someone to always be on my side. I wanted a supporter. I wanted someone to co-approve my big decisions so that I could feel that I was doing right in life.
I kept alternating between searching and waiting. Then I realised I was missing out on all the things I wanted in life because I was too afraid to do it alone. At that point, I started travelling to places, going on dates with myself (one memorable one was going to the opera by myself and having a three course meal at a fancy restaurant with no one for company) and doing everything I wanted instead of waiting. And I was so much happier for it.
Having lived in a flat for almost five years completely by myself, I had another hurdle to conquer – my low feelings. My issues with self esteem. No matter what I did, I still felt insignificant and like a failure. Everything on paper pointed to me being a success, but I simply couldn’t feel any connection to it. I was still seeking my self worth through the approval of others and wasn’t taking responsibility for myself. I became addicted to telling everyone about my problems as if telling someone, getting their approval of my thoughts and doing nothing to improve my situation would make things better. After all, ‘a problem shared, a problem halved’. Right? Wrong.
Eventually, I found the wonderful partner I was looking for. Yet I could still feel entirely lonely. No one else and no object can give you the self esteem you seek…the clue’s in the name – ‘self’ esteem.
It took a lot of digging and self-work. After what I would call an emotionally disastrous year, I discovered my self-esteem by treating myself with respect. I stopped my negative talk to myself and treated myself as I would any friend (or stranger for that matter!). I celebrated my triumphs – no matter how big or small. I forgave myself for my faults. I was patient with myself to improve upon my issues with impatience and frustration.
I’m still working on those aspects of myself that bring me struggle, but I no longer feel alone. No matter where I go, I travel with the one person who really understands me. I travel with the only person who knows my life’s every pain and motivation, my every want and need. I travel with the one person I enter and exit the world with and we are friends. I travel with Myself.
The path may be hard, but self realisation and being kind to yourself is one of the biggest favours you can do for the benefit of your happiness. Of course being kind sometimes means realising when you need help from others or professional help. Being kind to yourself can be hard – it requires building up your awareness and understanding of yourself. Do you know who you are? Do you know why you act the way that you do? It requires answering the awful questions too – why you blow up in anger, can be defensive, feel so very sad, or generally act in a poor manner. Why you feel pain and what triggers it. You end up facing this person who is supposedly ‘You’. And sometimes ‘You’ can be really ugly. Instead of facing up to your bad aspects, it seems easier to bury them, run away, superficially reinvent or find distraction.
But still, she/he isn’t just the person you come home to at night. She/He is You. You can’t ever get away from yourself. Investing your time in self-improvement and fixing your wounds is a greater investment than in new clothes or video games.
You were born beautiful and you are beautiful still, flaws and all. No one could have wholly prepared you for this world and the circumstances you face in life. It seems too simple that all your answers could be held within. It seems too unreal that in all this vast world, the only real thing you would need to find peace and freedom is yourself. Stop ignoring yourself. Stop treating yourself worse than you would a friend or stranger. Stop trying to take the easy route of distraction. The sooner you start the journey of being kind to yourself, the less lies to yourself you’ll need to unpick and the sooner you will find happiness and freedom.