One of the most underrated pleasures of life is that of doing things alone. Until a few weeks ago, I never truly realised how empowering and dignifying it is to know and respect your limits, and to have such solid standards into place, that you deem it simply unacceptable to compromise your desires and personal comfort for the sake of accommodating social interactions, relationships or activities which don’t bring you joy.
For as long as I can remember, I have considered it my duty to be a people pleaser. I have always been considerate of people’s sensibilities, I have constantly said “yes” to situations which I felt uneasy about, I have often, despite my best interest, engaged with people who didn’t show any gratitude for or understanding of my efforts, my bending over backwards to ensure their safety and well-being.
I strongly believe that “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul”, in that I am responsible for filling in the structure of my existence and education with personal input, with an active contribution to my own creation as a human being and as an individual. Therefore, being a self-made (wo)man shouldn’t be evaluated by the amount of wealth and knowledge, but rather by the amount of wisdom and emotional independence one has acquired throughout their life.
I recently had to learn the lesson of being comfortably and happily alone, by simply being thrown into the situation of having to decide whether not having a companion is reason enough to deprive myself of some experiences which I knew would fill my heart with great joy, namely, attending some movie screenings, which is a pretty lonesome activity anyways.
And I decided that I am enough. I am more than sufficient to my own existence, I am more than capable to look for myself, entertain myself, spend time with myself, comfort myself, amuse myself, manage myself, conduct myself, to be able to do things without company or supervision.
So I went for the first movie screening. And then the second one. At first I was hesitant, I was nervous, I was almost anxious about having to go somewhere on my own. And then I decided to have lunch alone, among the dozens of people getting together in the canteen, at noon, on a workday. And then a second lunch. And a third.
It was finally time to step even further out of my comfort zone, and that is when I decided to attend an event destined to the celebration and promotion of the African culture. And so I went, alone, to a social gathering of people whom I have never met before. The adrenaline rush was an indicator not of how far I had come, but rather, of how much anxiety I always linked to the idea of feeling exposed. Particularly for a single woman approaching her 30s, who shows no perspective of getting married or having children, being alone in a public space has always felt like the surest way to attract pitying stares and pointed fingers.
And then, a miracle happened. I opened up to the possibility of meeting people, of letting them see the raw, vulnerable, exposed woman, who simply wants to have a good time, to enjoy herself, to learn new things, to have new experiences, to live life at the fullest. And I was welcomed with open arms. I made pottery, I played games, I laughed, I ate, I drank, I danced and I felt truly happy. And I learned that it truly takes a village to raise a child. Sometimes the child may in fact be all grown, but fearful, or shy, or overwhelmed by the pressure of having to stand up for himself.
And it takes people of great kindness, great wisdom, great love of humanity, great understanding of life, to help each-other learn that being alone holds within a power that very few can handle. And it takes people of great empathy, great compassion, great courage to selflessly be there to support us, when we hesitate to truly take life into our own hands, and embrace all that the Universe is bringing our way.
I am grateful to have learned that being alone doesn’t mean being lonely, or vulnerable, or unworthy, and I look forward to further extending the realm of my experiences, to further exploring the beauty and strength of womanhood and individuality, to further meeting other souls, so that we may be there for each-other, silently, as each of us walks their own journey, all alone. And I wish you all to experience the liberating experience of being comfortably and happily alone.