I’ve recently been going through a whirlwind romance. The type that makes you look at life with fresh eyes and walk down the street smiling from ear to ear. But no, this romance has not been with any guy. Nope, not with any woman either! Puzzled? This romance has been about learning to love myself. I’ll give you a sec to go vom over how cringe that sounded…but stay with me.
The phrase, ‘to love oneself is the beginning of a life long adventure’ has really rung true for me recently. Like 99% of people, I spent the majority of my teenage and childhood years feeling very uncomfortable in my own skin; literally and metaphorically. As i’ve gotten older I’ve grown in confidence, but whether this confidence has really come from within or from the superficial words of others, I have questioned.
I’m a social creature and love to be around people; family, friends, partners. But one thing i’ve never been very good at is being alone. Don’t get me wrong, i’ve been single for big chunks of time, but I’ve always tried to fill that time by throwing myself into work, the gym and social life. If I really dissect it, I guess I’d never gotten truly comfortable with myself, never dealt with some of the less fortunate happenings in my life and so, being alone and left to confront these things always scared me.
On recently finding myself single again, something changed. I felt like this time, I wanted to put myself first and in doing so, confront some of the difficult things. It’s easy to go through life never really addressing our issues. We can just jump from one thing to another, distracting ourselves, and we can live a reasonably happy life doing so. But I want more than that, I want to be my best self.
So in my recent breakup, I resisted the urge to take on more work, fill my days and even surround myself with family and friends. I felt like this time, I wanted to deal with this on my own. It was hard at first and something that was so unnatural to me. In the past i’ve openly joked about how I can’t spend too much time alone, unoccupied before I start to get cabin fever! But, as much as it scared me, I cleared a minimum of two evenings a week from my calendar, didn’t take on extra clients, and just spent these hours alone with myself.
Slowly, I went from dreading this time, to feeling neutral about it, to, dare I say it, really looking forward to this ‘me time’. It happened slowly, so gradually that I almost didn’t notice it. Over the last couple of months I’ve found myself turning up to events alone, knowing no one and having an awesome night spent largely by myself. I’ve found myself taking long walks to places I’ve always wanted to go and experiencing them by myself. It happened so gradually but then all at once. Something just clicked and I just found myself feeling okay, no more than okay… actually happy, as I am.
People will always tell you that you need to ‘find yourself’ in your 20’s, and I’ve always been left thinking, ‘that’s great but how the fuck do I do that?!’. But for me it’s really been as simple as taking a step back, stepping of the treadmill for a sec (literally & metaphorically!) and just spending a bit of that time physically alone.
Just by doing that I’ve found myself in a position where my self worth now comes from within. I no longer really care what others think of me, because I know exactly who I am. Like every girl in her 20’s i’ve made bad choices, got into bad relationships, ended up in bad situations. But, by learning to love myself, I now find myself recognising when things aren’t good for me. I no longer live for the praise of others and so I’m able to turn down things that aren’t right for me, as I’m in no rush to escape being alone. Now I know that when I next do find myself to be no longer single, i’ll be in a position to have the best of both worlds; able to maintain my own independent life whilst still sharing it with someone else.
The only company that you are guaranteed to have for life is your own. So, for me, the biggest adventure in life really is falling in love with it! Its taken me 23 years to get there and my journey is by no means finished. But, after a difficult period, I’ve found myself with the kind of smile on my face again, that makes people ask me, ‘who’s making you so happy that you’re smiling like that?’. For the first time in my life, the answer is just ‘me’.