One thing I always worry about is feeling lonely. It’s weird because I am quite an independent person. I like my own space and love living alone. I really enjoy time to myself and actually look forward to my Friday evening rituals of gymming and having a pamper night whilst watching trashy TV in the flat. But one thing I have struggled with in the past is loneliness.
When I first went to university, I was seriously homesick. I felt so lonely, I was completely out of my comfort zone, and looking back now I believe I was depressed. I would spend my days counting down the minutes until the end of the week, the end of the year, the end of term. I’d either be going out on nights out and getting obliterated in a bid to make myself forget about the homesickness, or I’d be a bit of a recluse and would sit in my room alone.
I’d spend most of my days crying, and if it wasn’t for the fact that I loved my course and was super determined to fulfil my journo dreams then I would’ve dropped out and moved back home in a heartbeat. It’s a really weird feeling because you know that you should hang around with people in order to make you feel better, but you really don’t want to. I think how down and upset I spent the majority of my first and second years at university even now makes me feel really worried about being alone and spending a lot of time on my own. I never want to feel that low again.
The past two years, however, things have changed. I can’t say I particularly loved the time I spent living and interning in London in the winter of 2016, despite the incredible opportunities it gave me, but I think it really gave me that self belief that I could live alone, be alone and spend time alone. London is quite a lonely city anyway, but I feel like everyone is all together in that loneliness and going out for coffee, dinner, or even for a stroll around the sights by yourself just isn’t a big deal. I grew to rather like my own company and the time I spent with just myself.
Then, I got myself a job in Cardiff and opted to live on my own instead of moving into a house share. And to top it all off, this year I ended a relationship I had been in for nearly six years, despite the huge fear of being alone for the first time since I was 18 years old.
It’s meant that I’ve had to get used to thinking of just myself for the first time in my adult life, and while I do often worry that I’ll feel lonely, it’s safe to say I really have grown to love alone time and the opportunities it gives to better myself. Here are some of the tips I would give to help those who aren’t used to it, to embrace their own company and time alone.
Take up a hobby
The one thing I absolutely fell in love with this summer was running. I was training for the Cardiff Half Marathon and it gave me a real focus and soon became my way of embracing the time I had to myself, instead of wallowing in it. It became a hobby that kept me busy and gave me things to do on weekends, or during the week when I had finished work and had no plans for the evening. It allowed me to explore the city whilst exercising and enabled me to fulfil a goal I’d had for two years. Those long runs soon became something I really looked forward to and even craved.
Having a solitary hobby helped me understand that actually spending time on my own is a really nice thing, a really bloody good thing. Selfishly, those runs were my time and I really enjoyed switching off from the world and from other people, taking an hour to myself to unwind and train. As well as running I also love going to the gym and generally being active, and I also love blogging and photography, so I’ve got lots of things to keep me busy should I be left with no plans on a weekend.
The one thing I really love about blogging, and the main thing that keeps me blogging despite all of the changes in the blogosphere, is the creative outlet it provides. I love taking photographs, writing, coming up with post ideas, and the fact that I am always looking for ways to make content means I am always pretty busy, and have something to fall back on should I ever be needing something to do. It makes me actively plan things to get content, and I’m always looking for new and fun things to do, and places to go, whether that’s with people or by myself. The reason I set up this blog was to combat homesickness and to give me something to take my mind off things, so it’s great that 6 years on it still provides me with a creative outlet to enjoy.
I’m also quite keen to get crafting, having followed more crafty bloggers on Instagram lately. My plan for the winter, especially January when the social calendar seriously dies down, is to work on being creative in the flat. I want to do some painting and DIY, and want to finish off all the bits and pieces that I haven’t got round to doing yet.
Sundays can sometimes be a bit of an “alone” day for me. While they were my favourite day of the week at home, as I’d spend them with my family, now that I live an hour or so away in Cardiff, they can sometimes be the day of the week I dread for lack of plans. I really like to keep busy, so having nothing to do on a Sunday can sometimes make me feel a little anxious. Team this with the fact that a lot of my friends in Cardiff spend their Sundays dying in bed with a hangover, while others have boyfriends or family members they want to spend time with, and you see the dilemma.
The last few weeks, however, I’ve made a conscious effort to get outside on these days, even if that means going for a walk or drive on my own. I’d go exploring by myself quite a lot in London, so it makes no difference doing it in a different city, and I genuinely do feel so much better having spent time outdoors in the fresh air.
Living on my own means that if I don’t make plans, I will spend the majority of the week outside of work without human interaction. I’m a sucker for a plan and a to-do list anyway, but I usually get my weeks booked up in advance so that I know I have things to look forward to. It can sometimes mean that I burn the candle at both ends, but as I’ve now figured out what I need to do in order to love my own company, I’m pretty happy to even schedule some me time into the mix now.
I feel as though I’ve made really big progress this year. I’ve still not mastered everything, and I do sometimes tend to cram in as many activities and social events as humanly possible, as I feel as though I still have that fear of being lonely, anxious and homesick, but I’m definitely getting there. I think getting used to your own company, and really enjoying it, is a wonderful thing, but, for me, I definitely need to have a few little plans in place to allow me to do that.
Lots of love. xoxo