I have found myself thinking a lot about aloneness recently. Okay, bear with me while I try to put this in words without sounding like a lover of clichés and inspirational Pinterest quotes, or a deluded spinster. It’s a lot harder than you think…
Last week, I went to a wedding and even now I’m expecting to type the words, “there’s nothing more likely to remind you of how single you are than a wedding”, but self-pity was not the flavour of the evening. Only when those of us at the table were swapping various Tinder anecdotes did being single even come up; I guess it’s hard to feel alone when you are surrounded by people and food.
About a month ago, an almost-relationship ended as quickly as it had begun, thus marking the first time this year I truly thought about my aloneness. During the fling’s short life, I started thinking a relationship could be a nice addition to my life – and I’m sure I would have been partially right. It didn’t work out and plot-twist: life has since gone on.
“You just don’t know what you’re missing” – the golden words spoken to me by a concerned friend a couple of years ago (when I was also #singleAF). This is probably true; I don’t know what I’m missing, but then I’m not overly convinced I’m missing out on anything. Therein lies my main point – is it missing out to be single and to have to do a lot on your own? The mental plans I made before the “thing” ended were somewhat dashed (gigs, restaurants, bars, etc.), but I have since reimagined them with my friends or myself as company.
In reality, I should have told said friend (now ex-friend) that I was missing out on nothing. A few months after I received her stellar advice I moved to Boston for a year, in a few months from now I’ll be leaving Bath and moving on to a new place (back in with Mum and Dad, let’s be honest). My life has not been made any less easy or more complicated by being single; trying to sustain a relationship through that would have been nothing short of a ball-ache. In other words, aloneness is enormously convenient right now. Interestingly enough, the last almost-relationship ended because I apparently appeared “super interesting” but “too busy”. Bummer, but probably fair – I’m in my final year and do have a lot on my plate (which incidentally may have also been a deal-breaker; never date a vegan when meat is your one true love).
Someone recently asked me why I am still single – I believe her exact words were “what happened??” Obviously nothing happened, hence why I’m single. Unfortunately a lot of people make the mistake of equating being single with being lonely. Other common accompanying words include picky, unwanted, unattractive, etc. etc. etc… Give me strength – even Donald Trump is in a relationship (or is that his daughter?); not being single does not rule you out of being any of those thing, nor do any of those descriptions offer a sufficient explanation for being single. Unappealing maybe (I dare you to test a reasonable sample-size of people to determine that though), but lonely I am not – I live in a house of five other girls and Netflix knows me better than my own mother.
It doesn’t really matter why I’m single; that question is nothing but a trap and only results in you thinking about silly things like flaws, physical appearance and being a good person, blah blah blah. What I’m far more concerned with is the state of aloneness. When you’re single, it is unavoidable to find yourself alone (I hear this also sometimes happens when you actually are seeing someone), so it’s important, more important than most things, to be okay with that.
In my placement year, I spent a lot of time travelling to new places by myself. This was an excellent chance to schedule in exactly what I wanted to do, without worrying about compromising for anyone else’s plans – pure, selfish enjoyment. Sitting in a pub by myself in Toronto, with a steak and mojito in front of me and nothing to do but enjoy dinner, was overwhelmingly satisfying and I didn’t feel lonely once (I think a trend is beginning to show for food equalling company, let’s ignore that). On another occasion, I had a whole day to myself in Montreal while the friend I was staying with went to work. I ended up walking to the top of Mont Royale, sitting on an edge overlooking the city and finishing the book I was reading. It was the highlight of my whole trip.
I’ve been single for a while (shock), so I feel like I know what I’m taking about. More people need to experience the joys of dining alone, or spending time with yourself, not only because you have to but because you feel like it.
I suppose what I’m saying is we shouldn’t be afraid of spending time with just ourselves; it can be incredibly cathartic. Being alone should not be an awkward experience that you feel you need to rectify and being single should not stop you from doing anything.
But most importantly, being alone is not the same as being lonely.