I remember I wrote a paper about the importance of relationships
when I was 18 and in the 12th grade. In that Creative Writing class, I excelled and received an award for my achievements. I was proud of my work, but thought that each idea I transferred onto paper was "correct" in a sense; that all my thoughts were accurate (not opinions) and criticism about my so-called ideas were unwarranted.
Reflecting, I remember my teacher wrote that there was "more" to life than relationships when she graded my paper. I was astonished. More? What else could there be? Individuals are put on this earth with their own unique physical qualities, values, traits, personalities, faults, and imperfections to interact with others. To get to know others. To learn from others. They are supposed to share their lives, to connect with people, to develop compassion, and to feel a sense of belonging by being in the presence of others.
But now I know what she means. It has taken me a while, but I can see the beauty and the joy in being alone
. One does not need to feel isolated or broken by simply feeling alone. There is happiness in the gratitude of having the ability to breathe, to see, to hear, to enjoy good food. I clutched onto relationships (not just romantic ones) with a feeling of impermanence - that if connections with people deterioriated and escaped my grasp, I would be lost. And for a period of time, I was lost. I could not comprehend the idea of joy in being ALONE.
Ironically, I have been in a romantic relationship for over a year and it is this year, that I have learned the importance of being alone. I like having time out of my day to have "me time," when back then, any time spent without the company of others was in my mind, a waste of time. Nothing is a waste of time. Every moment is precious. Big occurrences and small moments have led me to this epiphany. I enjoy cooking. I enjoy putting an outfit together. I enjoy standing in the tanning bed and just focusing on each breath I take. I enjoy cleaning and reorganizing my belongings to ensure I live in a nice space. I enjoy each drop of sweat that hits the Stairmaster stairs while my favourite music plays through my headphones. I enjoy laughing at a funny movie. I enjoy beautiful inspirational images in the form of pictures on pages/paper or through my computer screen. I enjoy walking in the cold and seeing the plenteous snow on the ground. I enjoy opening my mailbox and seeing that there is an item addressed to me. I enjoy painting my nails. I enjoy my mint facial mask I put on myself weekly. I enjoy green tea and lemon, sitting at my kitchen table and just scrolling through my phone or watching television. I enjoy sitting in the sauna and marveling at how one could create this and where the idea originated. Most importantly, I enjoy a good book because knowledge is the one thing no one can take from you no matter what happens.
I used to also think that life was about (vapid) achievements
. Life was about your credentials, how many hours you could work, how many people you knew, how many parties you attended. Although they are inarguably useful, they are not the most significant. One should not lay on their deathbed and regret all the hours spent working on things they could count and list, but at the end, still feel a deep lack of fulfillment. Because that is not what life is about.
In 2013, I learned to love myself. I learned to enjoy time alone and to truly enjoy hobbies that I hold dear to my heart. I rediscovered my love of writing and reading. I learned that being alone
should not always be negatively connoted.
Today marks the day of a new year. And I am excited at the prospect of growing even more.
After a night out for NYE.