What it Means to Be Alone

I was excited for a lot of the things that come with the LC life, including living by myself. I’m a pretty severe control freak, a compulsive cleaner and very much someone who needs my own space. I’m also the world’s most stereotypical introvert. I have never had a problem chilling by my lonesome. Usually when I’m supposed to be having fun with other humans, I’m counting down the seconds until I can go home. One time, I fell asleep at a formal. That song “Here” was written abut me.

It’s been just about two months now since I started living by myself. My day-to-day life is not incredibly exciting. For the most part, I go to campus, I have meetings with my lovely officers, I come home, I work, I make dinner, I watch Gilmore Girls probably. I do most of that alone. Aside from meetings with the officers and an occasional faculty member, I’m solo.

I hadn’t thought much about being on my own until my supervisor sent the LC team an article about the stigma of doing things alone. It was about the way we look at people who are kickin’ it by themselves, how we assume that they’re lonely or friendless or really weird. In my case, I am sometimes lonely. I’m not friendless, my friends just happen to be scattered about the country. And I won’t say I’m not weird but I don’t think it’s a factor here.

The truth about being alone is that it’s harder than it seems. There are times when I want someone to share things with. There are times when I really want to get Chinese from the place in my college town that has miraculously yet to give us food poisoning. Sometimes I do want to go somewhere or do something in this beautiful city I have the pleasure of calling a temporary home and I wish I had a pal to go with me. It’s hard in those trivial ways, but it’s also difficult in a much more personal way.

Being by yourself means being okay with yourself. Hanging out with yourself all the time means you have to like yourself enough to enjoy it. Never having someone to distract you means giving yourself time to think through things that aren’t easy. I don’t know that everyone could handle that.

“We tend to project our own tendencies onto others, particularly in situations we view negatively; and I find that the people with the greatest aversion to doing things alone  —  incredibly uncomfortable at and almost disgusted by the idea  —  are the ones who cannot be in solitude with their minds. For what reasons, I can’t say I know, but they seem to move through life from one distraction to the next.” – Christina Ling, Huffington Post

Being a consultant is an experience unlike any other in a lot of ways. But one very important way that it’s completely unique is that it has given me plenty of time to be in solitude with my mind.

While there are times that I would love someone to watch a football game with or go to dinner with, I think being truly by myself has been better. I like cooking for myself. I like seeing sunsets on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial by myself. I like watching Gilmore Girls by myself. I like sitting in my bed eating ice cream on a Thursday night. I like having time to be with just me.

It wasn’t until I started thinking about these last two months here in DC that I realized how happy I am, and none of that happiness is the result of something superficial. I’m just good with myself. When I wake up, I feel happy; when I go to bed, I feel happy – and it’s a great feeling to know that I don’t need anyone else to be happy.

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