As a traveler, you probably know who you are and what you want out of life. Traveling really gets to the bottom of who you are. And while traveling can be an amazing experience, one of the things that is a constant battle: missing family and friends. It’s one of the rubs of traveling. We often talk about how to get through the winter holidays when you’re alone, but what about that ever-popular February holiday? … Yes, I’m talking about Valentine’s Day. The infamous day of love.
Why Being Alone Is Ok
February is one of those burnout/struggle months. February lovers will have my head for that statement, but why do I say that? Well, think about it:
- It’s the coldest month of the year. Most places. Your motivation is at an all-time low.
- It’s right after some of those big-spend holidays, so you’re pretty much recouping your financials.
- If you’re like me, you’ve eaten a lot of pie these past few months. Or in any case, you’ve probably indulged on a lot of holiday goodies and are trying to get back to feeling healthy.
- Seasonal depression (SAD) is a real serious condition that people can find themselves in, and all the factors above can compound onto SAD, making it worse.
- If you were alone for the holidays, you may still be alone during Valentine’s Day. Or if you’ve started a new relationship since then, maybe it’s too soon / too awkward to go all “balls to the wall” on roses and champagne for your new coupledom.
Now that we’ve completely bashed February (sorry, buddy!) let’s talk about being alone. Specifically, why being alone is ok.
The thing is, loneliness is normal, (Hooray! You’re human!) and it can be a result of numerous things. Maybe you’re traveling and have left family, friends, significant others, behind. Maybe you’re single and happy. Maybe you’re single, and you don’t want to be. Whatever your circumstances, your heart doesn’t have to take a toll.
Society will have you believe that you are not complete unless you find that special someone. Restaurants, movies, TV shows, magazines, all content... (Hello, it's Bachelor season!) Everything is built around seats for two. Two servings in a meal. How to find "the one." Whether or not that person will get the rose this week or get voted off the island.
In an article by The Cut, there is a distinct undertone that you should ultimately value your friendships above all. No real argument here. But in a world of couples, friendship is not as hyped up as romance. Even with the ever-popular Galentine’s Day spin.
Essentially, we're terrified to be alone.
In a world that tells you to never be alone, how do you learn to be by yourself?
Being by yourself is the best thing you will ever learn. Let’s clarify what I mean by this. I’m not talking about shuttering yourself away from the world, eating beans out of cans by firelight and throwing your phone into the ocean. Just because you learn to enjoy being alone, doesn’t mean you don’t love people.
I have a handful of people that mean the world to me, and I love spending time with them. But it’s those times when there are cancelled dinner plans, taking a trip alone, or just enjoying a meal out by myself, that I learn the most about who I am, what I enjoy and what my insecurities are. If you don’t know how insecure you are, try some solo activities and gauge your comfort zone. (You may be surprised!)
Here are some of the things I like to do alone:
- Yoga or any other exercise: I’m not really a group exerciser. Albeit for group classes, you can find me, ear pods in, focused on my workout. This is definitely a time when it’s okay to focus solely on yourself.
- A weekend getaway: A solo spa trip can help you decompress, de-stress, and really gain clarity on something that’s been gnawing away at your brain for a while. Truthfully, if you talk to me throughout a massage session when I’m trying to zen out, you’ve become my enemy.
- Lunch: Hey, maybe you’re the only one that wanted burritos today. So, just go. Get your burrito. Sit down. Eat your lunch. Nobody is judging your lack of dining companion. If anything, they’re probably eyeballing you for the lack of guac on your chips. (Always get the guac, people!)
- Home improvement projects: It could be my enormous pride that forbids me to ask for help with a bathroom remodel, or maybe I just like tiling and grouting to the tune of my favorite playlist, but it’s nice to accomplish a big project like this on your own. Of course, don’t like, hulk-out and try to move a giant bathtub by yourself. Be reasonable and ask for help when needed. We all have our limits.
- Grocery shopping: This is purely self-preservation. I don’t need any of y’all around, judging how much I spend on wine, cheese and cold-pressed juice each week.
If you hate my ideas, then check out this list from Woman’s Day magazine on 30 things to do by yourself.
So, what’s love got to do with it?
Look. Love is all fine and good, but you don’t need to feel pressured to find a date or send yourself flowers “anonymously” on a certain day of the year. Take back the (date) night! Treat yourself to… yourself. (I hear you’re pretty cool.) Do something solo and don’t let the love day get you down. When you start to enjoy being alone, you’re starting to really love yourself. So, as the holiday of gushy feelings grows near and those looming red-wrapped chocolate boxes haunt you around every corner, don’t worry about passing up on the pressure and participation. It’s completely fine.
Most people think they need someone to be happy, but the truth is, happiness is a choice. Really in the end, love has everything to do with it. Loving yourself is a choice. And sometimes, not only are you enough, but you can become so much more.