Over Christmas break while I was sitting on the kitchen floor laughing at a moth meme on my phone until tears came pouring from my eyes, my mother informed me that I was “a party all by myself.”
And, frankly, I sort of am.
Self-reliance is a skill I never thought I would need growing up. I was always sure I would have a flock of friends around me at all times to rely on with shoulders to cry on and trashy playlists full of 2008 Ke$ha to dance to. Friends to remember my order at Starbucks and that I find pretzel M&M’s far superior to anything else available at 7 Eleven.
Unfortunately, that’s not the way it always goes. Life goes on and some days will be long and lonely and you will be the one responsible for providing the trashy playlists.
As we all continue confidently and hopefully along in the new year, I think about the way I spent the last one. And the truth is that I spent a good chunk of it alone.
And that thought scares many people, the thought of being all by your lonesome. It scared me too a year ago. But, over time, I found that being alone isn’t all that bad, and it’s something some people need to be better at.
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Over the past year, I had to learn how to rely on myself. For food and water and clean clothes. If I was going to eat dinner, I had to be the one to get it, if I was going to wear clothes outside, I was the one who was going to wash them.
Those things are just part of being an adult.
But I also had to rely on myself for laughter and entertainment and conversation and pretzel M&M’s.
Among some great qualities I picked up over the year, I unfortunately also picked up a bad habit of talking to myself. I don’t mean “Did I remember to turn the oven off?”. I mean making a stupid joke and then looking at the wall in front of me, imagining it’s a camera and I am on The Office. I mean full-on conversations with myself in the milk aisle of the grocery store (“Let’s see, soy milk has more carbs, but it’s so much better than almond milk. How do you even milk an almond? Sorry, ma’am. Anyway, back to what I was saying…”).
However, I did learn how not to feel awkward walking into a classroom where I didn’t know anybody. I learned how to square my shoulders and genuinely not care what people thought of me as I walked by. I learned how to give the evil-eye to men who yelled at me on the street. I got tough. I found confidence in myself that I never knew I possessed.
I learned who the best comedians on Netflix were (John Mulaney, Jen Kirkman, Tom Segura, Iliza Shlesinger), I learned how to zoom in on an Instagram video, I taught myself how to twerk, and I found out that one-person dance parties are way more fun because there’s no one there to tell you that you have no rhythm and dance like a dad at a barbecue.
Not having anyone to sit with in class or go with to the movies or hang out with on the weekends forced me to become comfortable with myself. It made the times that I was around people much easier to handle; as a person who used to have a bad case of social anxiety, that’s a big deal for me. It turns out that when you have no one nearby to rely on for comfort in social situations, you learn to rely on yourself, so even when I was alone I still had me.
I became my own best friend, which shouldn’t you be? You’re the one who’s going to have to put up with you for the rest of your life. Y’all better get used to each other.
Don’t be fearful of time alone. Embrace it. Know how to be alone. Learn all the parts of Bohemian Rhapsody and sing all of them at the same time at top volume, I’m sure you sound great.
Go to the movies alone! Go to dinners alone! Take nights off from people and just be with yourself. Other people are overrated.
As someone with no friends, I now take great pride in the fact that I can make myself laugh so hard and so frequently. It can get lonely sometimes, so learn how to make yourself cry with laughter when no one else will. Be your own party.