This week I’ve been mostly in solitary confinement because I had a severe allergic reaction to vitamin B — who knew, right?— and, having been informed that I looked “medieval” (thanks dad), I decided to cloister myself away and wait for it to pass. It’s been a productive week, and it got me thinking about learning to be alone, and why it’s not a bad thing.
Schopenhauer wrote, “A man can be himself only so long as he is alone; and if he does not love solitude, he will not love freedom; for it is only when he is alone that he is really free. Constraint is always present in society, like a companion of whom there is no riddance.”
I happen to think Schopenhauer is goals AF because he lived out his days in Frankfurt surrounded by elderly poodles and had this amazing hairstyle:
Of course, he was a massive misogynist like pretty much every other guy back in the day , but you can’t have it all I guess. Back to solitude though, which has always been a bit of a problem for me. I’ve never really been good at it, suffering from severe FOMO every time I’ve stayed in and often surrounding myself with people who are emotionally draining, just because I’ve been scared to be in my own company. Which is actually pretty sad when you think about it, because you have to be in your company all the time, like literally ALL of the time. Being alone was sort of a phobia, and I remember feeling really envious of people who could just while away the hours working on projects or something. Being in a very intense, co-dependent relationship didn’t help, and having had PTSD and other fun things in the past I became scared of the conversations I might end up having with myself. I was also worried that I might just not be that interesting.
Being single and moving home (plus the stupidest allergic reaction to ever happen to anyone) has meant confronting my fear of being alone, and I’ve discovered a lot about myself. This is a relief because I had been worrying that I might have to go further afield than Surrey for a journey of self-discovery, and it could end up being expensive— or worse— cliché (noooo!). I’ve realised that I have actual interests that actually interest me, and that I can run 5k without dying, and that I am ostensibly a person that an employer, somewhere, might actually pay to do things I like doing, like writing or coming up with hilarious puns. Alright, I haven’t discovered renewable energy, but it’s a start. In the words of Rupaul, “if you can’t love yourself, gurl how in the hell you gonna love somebody else can I get an amen up in here” (amen Ru ) This year got off to a rocky start, and I was still fighting a lot of demons left over from 2016. Despite this, I’ve managed to graduate again and secure a job interview next week, which would have been impossible a few weeks ago because I was basically this extremely nervous dog.
Over the years I’ve been told I’m a lot of things, good and bad. I rely too much on praise to feel validated, and I take criticism terribly. Ask anyone. I literally cannot handle it. I’ve realised, however, that getting to know myself means that I can have a solid foundation to work with. Being a woman automatically invites a lot of criticism, and things like shame, self-consciousness and competing with other women, are part of the package. It’s rough, and when people who say things like grab them by the p***y are running the free world, it can seem futile to even try and bolster ourselves. But we should, and we do. Because once we learn to build ourselves up it enables us to do the same for other women and for everyone really. Learning that I am not just the sum of things that people have said about me (or to me), is a lesson that I plan to keep learning. I like my own company, and it’s nice to be able to say that truthfully. Just like my hideous, vitamin-induced rash, the proverbial skies are clearing, and the future looks bright.