After writing a piece recently about going to events as a solo person, I had several offers from people saying they would come with me to future ones. Whilst this is, of course, lovely, it wasn’t what I was trying to project, I was saying that it’s okay to be alone. And I’m still saying it’s okay to be alone.
This week is a wonky week for me. The end of the school year always feels quite overwhelming, there are so many events that my daughter is involved in and lots of things to tie up before the summer holidays. It’s also the third birthday of a friend who is no longer here and I can feel myself heading into the eye of the storm. However, having dealt with this emotion for the past three years, I think I’m now able to sit down and take time for some self care. But still, it’s not great feeling slightly out of control and unbalanced.
Maybe writing a piece on being alone this week is not the best timing. A time where I’d like to have someone scoop me up and tell me it’ll all be alright, but then it’s also a time when I cherish being alone. Life is noisy; the constant bombardment of images, audio, online interactions, all of this without adding people to the mix too.
I live in London and it’s clear when you look around on the tube that people want to be left alone, but they don’t want to be ‘alone’. Their faces are tuned into their screens watching downloads, playing games, checking Instagram, et al.
It is hard to find a place of peace. I went for a walk yesterday and immediately put my hand in my pocket to reach for my earphones. And then took my hand back out whilst asking myself - why did I need them? I went to walk in the local woods specifically because I wanted to be by myself, enjoy the surroundings, and absorb the calm around me.
It’s almost as though whatever we do, and wherever we are there has to be some form of stimulation. The same with being surrounded by people; the after work drinks, the lunch walk to the local sandwich bar, making coffee in the staffroom. But when you are surrounded by people, does that really make you feel less lonely?
When my relationship broke down, I felt that I needed people around me constantly. On reflection I know this was because I was ignoring the voices in my head vs the reality of sitting home by myself and listening to them.
It may sound cliché that you have to learn to love yourself first, but in my experience I believe you do. You can be surrounded by a gazillion people but do they make you feel fulfilled? If they do, great, and if they do, just sometimes, that’s great too.
But also, it’s really okay to be alone. Try it.
Cat Cooperis a forty something, single mum who lives in North London with her ten year old daughter. She is writing her first book about the roller-coaster ride that is online dating, post millennium and post her own break-up. Life’s curve balls can really throw you, and starting over has certainly been a journey of self discovery. It wasn’t until her girlfriends who enjoyed her stories so much and encouraged her to write them down, that she decided to share them.