Earlier this week I wrote about self-love and how putting yourself first is the ultimate key to success. Removing ourselves from situations that don’t serve us or that hinder our growth is one of the first actions towards self-prioritization, not just professionally or academically but also emotionally. In every single one of your relationships, you are the most important person, and you must never sacrifice your goals and standards for others.
While I keep saying that self-love should go above all, let’s be honest: being loved by somebody else is a pretty great feeling. While asking for ideas on what to blog about next, my super amazing friend Isa suggested writing about “love and being okay with being alone in college” (hence the very specific title!). While a very relatable topic to me personally, I never thought about the fact that I couldn’t be the only one going through this. Healthy relationships with supportive partners are extremely valuable and fulfilling, but very rare to find. The rise of dating apps and websites put pressure on finding “the one,” especially in college where there’s a belief that you’re likely to find the love of your life on campus. With influences like this it’s no wonder people are bound to feel ashamed for being single and/or alone.
It’s normal to want to be wanted. It’s normal to want to have someone to exchange stories with at the end of the day, someone who remembers seemingly insignificant details about you, and who celebrates your strengths while loving and accepting your vulnerable points. Giving and receiving affection is one of the best feelings in the world, so the guilt we oftentimes impose on ourselves for having that desire to receive it is a little harsh. Of course, there’s also the guilt we feel from the other end of the spectrum: solitude. What happens when you don’t actually have someone special in your life?
As a society, we’ve been conditioned to associate being alone with being weird or flawed, two things we’re deeply concerned with distancing ourselves from. We’re afraid to eat at restaurants alone or go to bars or concerts by ourselves because we’re anxious about what people are going to think or say. Maybe they’ll think that I’m a loser with no friends? I mean, what kind of weirdo doesn’t have at least one friend to go out to eat with? This fear is so deeply ingrained that it even transcends from the public sphere into our private lives; I’ve noticed that even when I’m at home alone, if there is no background noise and I’m not playing any music I feel uncomfortable, almost as if I can’t tolerate being alone with my own thoughts. Solitude is unnerving.
When we’re talking about solitude in relation to romantic relationships, however, it’s slightly different.
The single life is fun and affords you a lot more time and freedom than what you would have in a relationship, but even with friends and family it’s easy to feel like there’s still something missing. Solitude is necessary and can be empowering when it’s by choice, but when it starts to feel less like solitude and more like constant loneliness, the weight of having to carry so much of ourselves on our own takes a toll on the soul. This perpetual loneliness brings with it feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt, prompting us look inwards for a reason as to why we can’t attract somebody and sometimes even resent ourselves for being a barrier to our own happiness.
In our pursuit to cure our loneliness we often settle for less by allowing mediocrity into our lives, giving our heart and soul to people who are only capable of giving us a fraction of what we truly deserve. We seek validation and attention from an external source rather than looking within and searching for the source of our dissatisfaction with ourselves. More often than not, romantic love is not the solution to what you think you’re missing, but it’s so easy to settle for temporary satisfaction to distract from the heartache. Self-love is realizing that a romantic partner will not be your savior, and that the person that doesn’t appreciate your story, doesn’t make the attempt to learn your love languages, and isn’t amazed by you as a whole, will not fix your loneliness.
It is okay to want to be wanted, but it is also okay to be alone. It’s normal to feel guilty about it and it is normal to not want to tell anybody because you think they’re going to pity you or think that something is wrong with you. Even worse, you’re afraid they might think you’re insinuating that they’re not a good friends or not available as much as you’d want them to be, and whether or not that is true it is time to finally unlearn this feeling of shame. You need to believe that you are more than enough, not just for others, but also for yourself. This goes beyond reciting self-affirmations in front of the mirror or indulging in a little selfishness- welcome your solitude and hug it tightly, because it is a privilege to be surrounded by all that you are.
Maybe this is dramatic, but being alone is in itself a revolutionary act. Rejecting the notion of relationships being the default is liberating, and it is the first step to being okay with being alone. It is the first step to learning how to reach happiness by yourself and capturing the moment fully present. “A better you will attract a better next” is bullshit! Be a better you to attract better opportunities, better career prospects, and better friendships, and I promise you that solitude will no longer feel like a punishment, but rather a gift.
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