Stockholm, 20 Nov 2022 One of my goals this year is to be comfortable with being alone. As an extrovert, my energy comes from socialising. Even on my busiest days, I want to be surrounded by other human beings. Until it becomes too much that I always felt the urge to go out on the days I should just rest at home. That one of my biggest fears after breaking up was I would feel lonely in Hong Kong. If you’re an introvert, you probably couldn’t relate to these feelings but I used to feel restless to be just staying at home.
Living in Hong Kong for years did help because I learnt to do things by myself, though I would still choose to takeout instead of eating in the restaurant alone. Most of the time, my earplug and music are on because my irrational belief told me that being alone is pity and lonely.
Earlier this year, I experienced the longest work-from-home without my partner. The silence in my room often made me feel terrible. But, I couldn’t afford to constantly go out or have someone to be with me. I made an intentional goal that I want to learn to be comfortable just being with myself. I want to be friend with the silence. I want to be alone without feeling lonely.
I started to fill my days with home activities — reading books, journaling, watching netflix. Basic things that I used to do only when I’m bored. I intentionally started to empty my Sundays to give myself time to breathe — “me time” they said. And being alone started to feel better just yet.
When I took sabbatical leave and came back home for good, I had wayyy more free time while my friends are at work. Took my parents by surprise that I could stay at home for days. My mom suspected that I was running out of money but no, I stay at home by choice and build my schedule around it.
Yet, my aha moment was last week! I landed in Stockholm alone and headed to my friend’s place following the direction given. It was just me and myself in a new and foreign city. Instead of feeling lonely, I felt free, capable, and excited. It felt light to only be responsible of myself. For the first time, I told myself yes, I would travel alone again.
This moment I knew I have come a long way to find joy in the time I have to myself. There’s no more insecurity having lunch alone without earplug, there’s no more embarrassment asking strangers to take a photo of me, there’s no more anxiety strolling around a new city alone. I learn to trust me, listen to my feelings without other’s influence, and have a better sense of who I am.
Things that may help:
- Ask yourself what make you don’t like being alone? What other’s presence can give you but you can’t give yourself?
- Once you find out, find a way to fill the gap. It could be as simple as rewire your brain that being alone doesn’t mean lonely
- Learn from introverts – or people who’s used to just be alone – what do they usually do?
- Plan your activities so you have something to look forward to, just like when you make plans with your friends
- Embrace the lonely feeling, turns out it’s not so bad
- Call your friend in case you can’t help it
- Stop thinking what others would think, everyone is weird in their own way
At the end of the day, the time spent alone will increase throughout your life. As Sahil Bloom put it, let’s embrace our solitude.
Your (not-so) independent girl, Mickey