“Do not rely completely on any other human being, however dear. We meet all life’s greatest tests alone.” – Agnes Macphail.
I like people. I’m a people person. I thrive in big crowds and relish at the chance to talk to as many people as I can and listen to as many stories as I can. And yet, as I’ve gotten a little bit older (and I hope, a little bit wiser), there have been times when I have had to spend time by myself and it has shed a light on how comfortable I’ve begun to feel in my own skin, as flawed and different as it may be. Because, it was in those times when I truly got to know myself.
The beauty of time spent alone is that it teaches you the virtue of patience; patience to accept ourselves as we are, parts we like and don’t like in equal measure. This is a lesson I’ve learned time and time again as some situations have forced me into being by myself, emotionally and physically. Now, that’s not for lack of support from family or friends, but that sometimes there are bridges that we must cross alone.
Every hour we spend alone allows us a chance to nurture ourselves, to grow and commit to new things, new hobbies, new passions. Looking back to my eighteen-year-old self who’s only thought was on the next time I’d be around people, I have come to realise just how valuable that time alone was for me.
Above all, a calm serenity settles upon your mind once you realise you don’t need anyone to fill your days with. You, yourself, are enough. Seeking validation from other people or other experiences is neither fulfilling nor healthy; being happy on our own can never come from a process that’s entirely external. This is something I’m still learning every day.
You don’t have to barricade yourself away to be by yourself; indulge in the little things! Enjoy a long shower, or take a walk, take the scenic route home and just for a little while, try to shut out the bigger picture. Just be. The only expectations we ever need to live up to are our own…
Disclaimer: A big Thank you to Mike Zandy for the wonderful photo of Olympic National Park. If you would like to see more of his work, visit: https://www.instagram.com/zandtrick/?hl=en.