There are times when being alone is satisfying. It allows you to focus on what you need to do, decompress from the world around you, and recharge your batteries. I find it’s when I do my best writing, when I’m at my most focused, and my favorite way to binge Netflix shows.
There is also a time when being alone is maybe not so good. When you’re battling a deep depression, riddled with overwhelming paranoia or anxiety, or in the wrong mindset.
At this point in my life where sometimes multiple days pass where the only people I talk to are my children. One is five and nonverbal and the other is eight months old and hasn’t learned any words beyond “da-da”, so it’s mostly me talking at them and no one talking back to me. I’m trying to find ways to be alone and be happy, busy, and feel complete with only my own company.
In my time alone, I am focusing on learning something new as well as learning more about myself. I took up running and as a girl who was over two hundred pounds when I started, I felt foolish. But each day I laced up my shoes and went out to run. Within the first few days, I learned more about my body and my endurance than I would have guessed. Turns out, I’m a lot stronger than I think I am and I can push myself. My body will go faster and farther than I would have ever known if I hadn’t tried. All things I would have never known if I didn’t take the time to learn them about myself and learning about myself is a lot easier when I’m alone.
There have been long periods of my life where I was single, childless, and wandering with no place to go. Not no place to physically go, but I was going nowhere in my life. Being alone and open to exploring things life had to offer was a great treat. I would walk around the city, listening to music I had never heard before, explore shops and museums I had never seen, and generally had a much more open mind to all the things around me.
Being alone allows you to explore things without the voice of another opinion. You don’t have to compromise where to go or what to do, and you can think about things and develop your point of view.
Focusing on extinguishing a bad habit or mindset when you’re alone can be so rewarding. Or deciding to form good habits. After my most recent breakup, I overhauled my health and fitness routines, which means I went from not having a routine to making one. I’ve started interment fasting, running, doing yoga, and even some meditation. Using my time when I feel alone to grow as a person has helped me to shake feeling lonely.
Time is a precious commodity for all of us. Giving your time up to help someone or volunteer is a meaningful gesture because of how little time we all have. Getting out of the house also helps have social interaction. When I’m feeling alone, I will find a way to help a neighbor or friend in some way. Reach out, give of your time, and the feelings and gratitude you get in return will help to stave away the negative feelings that can come when you are spending most of your time alone.
Realizing that I don’t have to be in a relationship to be happy, content, or thriving, is something I still have to come to terms with each day. Some parts of life are just better when you have someone to share them with. But that doesn’t mean that the time you spend between relationships or alone is meaningless or unimportant. Thriving while alone is meaningful. It allows you to know yourself better and discover exactly what you want and what makes you happy.
Being in a relationship doesn’t make your life more meaningful or fulfilling. There is a lot to be said for being a complete and whole person on your own. You are worthy of all the love and happiness the world has to offer, but you are worthy of that when you’re single or in a relationship.
Ashley Shannon is a queer single mom of two kids, one with autism. She writes about relationships, mental health issues, being a single parent, and sexuality. She is currently looking for the perfect school bus to turn into a traveling tiny home and can be found on twitter @as_publishing.