How well do you know yourself? How much do you love yourself? How well can you tolerate being by yourself? These may seem like easy or obvious questions to pose. But most people never consider them. We are accustomed to being in relation to other people. Even the Bible tells us in the creation story that it was not good for mankind to be alone. As a single woman with no kids, I have experienced an extended season of loneliness. I used to decry and abhor my solitude until I realized just how strong it has made me.
I have friends who jump in and out of relationships every other week, it seems like. They are never completely alone. They always have someone to call, someone to go on dates with, someone to keep them warm at night. No judgment to them, but I know I couldn’t function like this. My spirit is too sensitive and it takes me a while to recover from breakups. I have to detox, reassess, pick apart, evaluate, and encourage myself all over again to get back out there. I used to be upset with my inability to rebound fast, but what I have noticed is that people who bounce from relationship to relationship are unstable and unsettled within themselves. It is hard for them to be alone.
Going through an extended season of loneliness has taught me how to do the following things:
- Affirm and encourage myself
- Be completely comfortable in my own skin
- Know what I want out of life, outside of anyone else’s influence
- Find my God given purpose and hear God very clearly
- Be able to set healthy standards and boundaries in all of my relationships
These things are invaluable to me. Yes, relationships strengthen and prune you in a number of ways. However, spending time alone in the quietness of your own thoughts and the comfort of your own imagination allows you to know exactly who you are. How can you function as a whole, healthy person if you are always carrying thoughts and emotions from past situations or other influences around with you? Doing that cost me a lot of time, heartaches and a few relationships too.
Now that I know how to enjoy me by myself, I no longer have to place unwarranted or unreasonably high expectations on others to fulfill my needs and desires. This takes pressure off of others who deal with me. It also allows me to freely assess whether or not those individuals should be in my life and share my energy. If you find yourself struggling in relationship with others – friends, family, or romantic – get alone. Hear your own thoughts. Reignite your own dreams. Learn your own rhythm instead of dancing to the beat of others’ drums all the time. A season of loneliness will not kill you. If it is channeled properly, it will help you better yourself for the next relationship you enter.