I like flying solo. I like it that my days are my own. I like that I get to set my schedule and go where the winds take me. I enjoy quiet meals alone, or alone in the company of a book.
I also adore afternoons spent with a friend, poolside and catching up in our respective latests. I like dropping by a friend’s shop and whiling away the hours laughing and learning words in another language. I enjoy showing up for a yoga class and then trying out a new lunch place with a classmate.
Life is in the balance. Finding time for myself creates peace and serenity. Too much time alone and without the warm love and stimulation of people to care about leaves me feeling dingy and isolated. Too much time saturated with people and activities leaves me run-ragged, dingy and isolated from myself. Playing within this balance is a continual process of being in touch with my needs and then responding to them from a place of compassionate intuition.
I’ve spent much of my life intellectualizing this balance. Doing so has helped me to understand my motivations but it sometimes fails to give me the tools to address the chasm between loneliness and hyperactivity.
In the past I was habituated to an insanely busy schedule, packing too much in, having a vast multitude of interests, and hordes of friends and social engagements to keep me from spending time on my own…I don’t think I was scared to be on my own, nor did I hate the time alone; in fact I was pretty good at it (brushes shoulder off). I would go to restaurants and eat out on my own. I’d spend a Saturday night wandering the 15′ aisles of the local bookstore and then cozy up with a stack of books and cappuccino for hours on my own. I’d wait for movies to release at the local art house theater and make a whole afternoon out of the matinee screening: chocolate Bon bons, wine-n-all on my own. I’d go on hikes, visit the ocean, take my dog backpacking–all happily on my own.
In the past if I received a social invitation I’d almost without fail accept (granted I didn’t always show up–but that’s another story…). If I had time unscheduled then yes, I would gobble it up and claim some space to go do my own thing. What’s significant about how I would spend my days is that then I’d let my days schedule themselves.
Now it’s different. Now it’s my choice. Now I make the schedule myself, not based on others’ plans or schedules. When I spend time alone it is chosen time: yoga classes, arriving to places early to write or read, sitting poolside with nothing to do, laying down to actually listen to music (not simply music as ambient noise), meditating and sitting silently with the sounds of life inside, the sounds of life all around me.
Significantly, I say “no” and that is the single biggest distinction between my then and my now. This tool of saying “no” is another secret to happiness. Saying no unlocks doors that signal “I don’t need your approval,” “I’m content on my own,” “my sense of psychological security is not dependent upon attending your social gathering” and “I value myself enough to attend to my own needs.” Each of those statements acts as a gateway to higher self-worth and comfort within one’s own skin. Saying no also signals to the world that I’m secure enough to rise above peer-pressure and your negative talk. Therein lies the seat of personal empowerment.
Admittedly saying “no” also means not doing it all–and sure, sometimes I miss out or feel left behind–however saying “no” and smiling inside and out is one of the best feelings ever.
And with that, I’m off to visit a tasty vegetarian restaurant of my choosing. Afterward I will meet up with some friends for a night spent hanging in a local living room… Smiling all the way 😀