“Sometimes you’re not falling in love because whatever you need to know about yourself is only knowable through solitude.” -Anonymous
There’s a discomfort in silence for me. I come home from work and I immediately turn on background noise because I can’t handle the quiet. I think the underlying discomfort I feel is even more prevalent in the stillness and silence of the winter. I’m not sure exactly why silence is so hard for me to face. Maybe it’s because I get lost in my own obsessive thoughts, or maybe it’s just the realization that I’m alone.
In past relationships I have often lost myself in the other person. I have always been so in love with the idea of a happily-ever-after that sometimes my significant other’s desires, hobbies, passions and habits took precedence over my own. After my most recent long-term relationship ended it really felt like a part of me was missing, but the truth is, I lost a part of me way before that relationship ended. While I was with him, I lost sight of my aspirations and I wasn’t doing the things I loved to do as much as I should have been. I was a bit of a chameleon in that relationship, and I hope I never lose sight of myself while in one again.
If you have chameleon-like tendencies like me, then breakups are particularly painful because you feel like you have to reconstruct yourself. You turned your life over to this other person and you got lost along the way. Then once that person exited you were left feeling more than heartbroken; you felt confused, frustrated, and less like yourself than ever.
After my most recent relationship ended, my dad gave me an impeccable, yet simple piece of advice, “Focus all of your energy on you. You have no ties. This is a time for you to do the things you love.”
The beautiful thing about solitude is that it gives you a platform to get to know yourself again. I have never been more self-aware or self-curious than I am now. Facing solitude allowed me to get to where I am now. Forcing myself to fight through the loneliness instead of turning to and relying on external forces has helped me uncover who I am – and I’m still writing that story.
Self-reflection was never something I was very good at, maybe I felt vain spending so much time thinking about myself. Nevertheless, reflecting on where I’ve been, the experiences I’ve had, and my reactions to those experiences has helped me get to know myself better. For example, I realized that compromising my aspirations in my most recent relationship undoubtedly comes from my unfortunate need for reassurance and acceptance from others. Likewise, if you know me well, you know I can rarely handle it when someone is upset with me. I’m working on being more confident in myself without needing to be liked or accepted by every single person. What people think of me is none of my business anyway.
So even though I’m still a little scared of silence, I’m growing more comfortable with being alone every day. Baby steps.
Oh and a song about being alone with your thoughts for inspiration and good measure: