If I had to name one take-away from my twenties thus far, it’s that spending time with yourself is a) completely okay, and b) quite the luxury.
In school, I’d be deemed the loser for walking to classes alone (my timetable was almost completely different from everybody else’s as my parents switched my school enrolment on the first day) and you’d also be deemed a loser if you had no plans after school or at the weekend (I wasn’t allowed out!). And much like other things that are ingrained in us from those school years, that’s how we’re conditioned to think in the real world. A few years ago, I’d pressure myself into going out to events that I didn’t want to be at, simply to be able to report back to new colleagues and friends that I’d done something, lo and behold.
I’ve always enjoyed my own company. As the eldest of three children, I was more than content to do life solo and I loved nothing more than getting lost in literary worlds as a child growing up. I used to look forward to long commutes if only for that promised hour or so spent lost in my thoughts, listening to my own music. And lastly, when I moved abroad, I truly felt like I’d found my footing navigating a semi-new country on my own, adventuring most weekends alone and having a great time dining solo after work when I was almost-home-but-just-decided-I-was-too-lazy-to-cook.
Give yourself time
First up, make time for yourself to be alone. Okay, so it might feel a little selfish at first to spend even half of a weekend on your own, but it is a true luxury to be able to relax at your own leisure and do things for you. Find a gap in your diary, no matter how short at first, and write it down, make it an occasion that you’d look forward to as much as you do when you see ‘GBBO Viewing Party + Best Pal Bringing Brownies’.
Remember what you love
As we grow up, it’s an almost sad reality that we begin to shake off hobbies that we once adored. I bloody loved dance lessons on a Tuesday night and piano lessons on a Monday, graphic designing after school on a Wednesday… I could go on. Give yourself a little time to remember what you love doing and consider picking that back up again. It could be as simple as reading a book or popping for a wander to the shops for a sneaky treat or a few hours spent cross-stitching. It’s your call.
Shake off the external factors
Half of the reason that I fretted about spending time alone was because of what other people would think. I thought to myself: ‘when did I last wonder why somebody was eating dinner alone?’ Answer: I never really have. You do you girl. It’s 2017 and sadly, people are sorta too wrapped up in their own lives to wonder about why you might be doing something alone during the 1.5 seconds that they’ve caught your eye.
Smile and you’re halfway there. That there is one of my favourite quotes and it is so bloody true.
Reconnect with yourself
As cheesy as this might sound, spending time alone gives you plenty of time to work on yourself and figure out what you want, whether that’s for dinner or out of life. While living in Hong Kong, I came to really enjoy my Monday dinners out. I’d get almost home and then take a detour to a little Korean restaurant I loved, take the same seat, pop my earphones in and write in a notebook all of the grand plans and ideas floating about in my mind. I’d make lists – not to-do lists, but lists of things I’d like to try or things I felt I quite liked in general – and just make time to sit with my thoughts and grab ahold of them. Writing things down makes alone time feel a little more tangible and it’ll certainly ease the guilt/anxiety/worry of spending time with yourself and pleasing nobody but yourself. Ahem.