Alone, but not lonely

Graphic by Carleen Loney @shloneys

Before you can enjoy the company of someone else wholeheartedly, you need to learn to be by yourself.

I absolutely adore my own company. I had roommates the first semester of my first year of university, and by the second semester, I’d moved out on my own. 

I guess that’s what comes with growing up as an only child. 

While some people recharge their batteries with big social events, I recharge with a cup of Murchie’s tea (specifically) and at least a 48-hour hiatus, no matter how long my last social interaction was. Those 48 hours are my time to simply exist and plan. Plot, if you will. Over my 20 years of living, my coveted time alone has led to a significant amount of personal growth. 

For only children, it’s much easier to spend time alone because we are accustomed to being self-sufficient. We had to find ways to entertain ourselves and not feel lonely when we were by ourselves. We were our own best friend. 

For those who aren’t used to being on their own, it can be scary.  There is no one to entertain you, no one to talk to face to face. It’s a tough situation to be in, especially during short and dreary winter days. 

The first step to conquering this is to learn how to enjoy your own company. It is not something that can be taught, but it is something to learn. I am very proud to have determined how best to spend my time alone and, in the spirit of it getting dark at 4:30 p.m., how to use those same tactics to battle the winter blues. 

Make your favourite beverage, and try a new recipe: aside from a good London Fog tea, my favourite thing is a teapot of cambric tea. With a new homemade baked good or the result of that new dinner recipe I found (who knows where), this is a favourite pastime.

Listen to a podcast (not music): Especially if you grew up with siblings, having background chatter will help you feel less isolated. I love listening to Stuart McLean’s Vinyl Café—though I know how every story ends, I always find the endings hilarious, especially if it involves the questionable decisions of the main character, Dave. No one ever said that you have to actively listen to a podcast…

Explore: Go to a new metro station and explore the general vicinity to get your however-many thousand steps in. Who knows, you might find your favourite new café. This is truly a two-birds-one-stone situation.

Go for a drive: Sing along to some music, put together that great comeback you should’ve said when you had the chance, or drive to your favourite haunt outside of the city. Just make sure you don’t turn left at a red light.

Clean: Maybe it’s just me, but cleaning is therapeutic and a great way to kill time. I genuinely look forward to Sundays because, though a bit unorthodox, it is my apartment deep clean day. 

Reset: Tying into the above, when the space around you is clean, your mind is too – doing a weekly reset, whether that’s to clean, go work out, or do your favourite thing around the city–  to jump into Monday in full swing is a great way to take your mind off of that lonely feeling.

Write: Sure, I’m an English Lit Major so this is a given, but how else do you think this article got written? (For context, I’m currently on my 48-hour hiatus).

The results of self-growth from spending time alone are the foundations of being an adult. Like any habit or routine, it will take some time getting used to being comfortable spending time alone. However, getting to know yourself in a solitary setting and being okay with being alone is a pretty big (and sought after) achievement. It allows you to protect your peace. So, just take a deep breath, and see where the day takes you.

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