The Gift of Solitude: “How Aloneness Saved my Life”
Written by: Amber
I remember the summer I started to lose my mind. Five days out of the week, I was forced to wake up at 5:30 in the morning. Every morning I’d quickly get dressed, lazily put on a half face of makeup and get into my car to fight through Atlanta traffic, just to clock into a job I absolutely despised. I was barely getting paid two times a month, juggling rent and bills all while digging myself into a deep dark hole of debt. Not only did I despise going into work, I started dreading going home too.
Flash back to a little under two years ago. My best friend and I would be at Target, gleefully shopping and overspending for our brand new apartment. Now, after spending a year and a half basically crawled up each other’s backs, the only words you might hear us speak to each other are “can you pass me the remote?” or better yet, “would you mind leaving, I kind of want to watch TV alone.” Being depressed with your best friend isn’t the best feeling in the world.
I was moving through life as a sad, confused 24-year-old robot in a bubble clouded with smoke and depression. I accepted my degrading job and awkward friend/roommate situation. I forced myself to “just get through it, friends fight all of the time, and all jobs suck. This is just life, girl.” I psyched myself into thinking my problems were normal, but a feeling deep inside of my chest knew something about this miserable routine I called life wasn’t right. I found a weird sense of comfort by being uncomfortable, and I didn’t quite know what I needed to do to get out of this funk. I was officially lost in the sauce. I couldn’t tell you how I got there, all I knew was I was sad, angry and bored every single day, and it didn’t feel good.
Eventually, life hit me like a ton of bricks and without warning. One minute I had friends surrounding me, cracking up at re-runs of “Broad City”. The next minute I’d be spending every evening and weekend sitting in my room alone, scrolling through social media until 4 A.M., sobbing and eating ice-cream.
My best friend and I weren’t so “best” anymore. My job got worse and worse by the minute. There’d be days I’d walk both into and out of work with tears rolling down my face. I forgot how to make friends. I would turn down party invitations because I’d rather stay at home and sulk in my own sadness. I was exploding from the inside out.
After months of stress and suppressing my feelings, the expected happened. I fell into a depression. I’ve been depressed before, I thought, but this time was different, deeper, scarier. I didn’t have a single soul to turn to other than my own. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I told myself I will not go back into the world, work included, until I felt better, no matter how long that’ll take. I decided to put myself first, for the first time ever. I was left with these options; either completely crumble, or save myself.
I spent the next two months alone. In complete aloneness. I let my social life fade, and became more in touch with me. I talked to myself, I asked myself “how do you feel?”. I wrote to myself in my journal. I turned my phone off for days and drowned myself in books. I learned to let spirit and love guide me. I danced for hours. I cried in the ugliest ways. I sang to the top of my lungs. I laughed. I took myself out, I pampered myself. I forgave myself and others. I learned how to love myself. I saved myself and became my own best friend.
When everything is crumbling, it’s easy for us to feel like it’s the end of the world when in reality, it’s just Mother Nature with her extremist attitude shattering our old worlds to walk us into a new, brighter one. All it takes from you is a new approach.
Here are 7 quick tips on how to make the most out of your solitude.
1. Understand that loneliness is an illusion, and aloneness is a gift.
2. Invest in a journal. It’ll be the best $5 investment you can make. Remember, there are no rules to journaling. It’s YOUR journal, don’t hold back.
3. Date yourself! Instead of wishing what your non-existent lover would do for you this weekend, do that very thing for yourself. (For those of us with anxiety, people won’t look at you like you’re crazy, I promise). One thing I found out is that going out alone is a pretty normal thing to do.
4. Less screens, more pages. Dedicate a certain time of the day to disconnect from social media and pick up a book or two (or be like me and make it 50). Learn that a great life can still exist even with your phone turned off.
5. Create a self-love list. Write down at least 20 things that encourage self-love (whatever that is to you) and make it a point to cross something off of your list daily.
6. Meditate. A lot of us are intimidated by this word because we may think of “sitting still and breathing”, but good news; that idea is false! To me, meditation is whatever task that encourages deep focus and a sense of release or freedom. For beginners, I encourage searching for guided meditations (these can easily be found on platforms such as Youtube and Spotify).
7. Last but not least – have fun and groove to your own drum! Do whatever you want to do with no limitations. Travel. Learn to cook. Finally take that dance class. Get in touch with nature. Pick up an instrument. Perform at a stand-up comedy show. Write a book. Whatever it is you feel in your heart, do it. Let go of your fear and LIVE.
Teach yourself how it feels to be loved unconditionally. Always remember, self-love is the best love. <3