Self-growth through solitude and travel: Ways that I learned to be my best-friend.

I’m at work on a random day of the week. I am not rushed to get a bunch of things done. Feeling entirely lucky because I have some down time to let my mind wander as I can concentrate on what it is that I am cooking and try to perfect it with each whisp, slice, slap, and dice.

In those transitional moments of meditative cooking my mind comes up with these phrases and concepts that I want to write more about. This comes from one of those moments as I was stirring in heavy whipped cream into a rue for a white sauce that I make. Here is what I stopped to jot into my notes on my phone.

“I finally got food at being alone. Someone beautiful and intelligent better not come around and fuck that up for me.”

I mean sans the poetic tonal quality of that phrase, I still stand by that sentiment. When I look back on years of relationships with the women I have decided to spend my time with, I never realized how much time I was spending as US and how little time I was trying to spend with ME. I never gave myself the chance to get to know myself. Always flopping from one all-too-intense relationship to the next with little time between while I fought depression and self-confidence issues.

With the years in between my relationships, I never gave myself the chance to truly learn how to have an awesome time by myself. If I ever did get to that place in the past where I felt as though I was accepting myself, I always took it as a sign that I should get into another relationship because I felt *Healthy*. Which I most certainly was not.

Lately I have been wondering if that was actually the time I could have benefited from. Using it as a search for what it is that pulls me. What it is that makes me want to wake up  everyday. Learning to find ways to positively affect the world around me and still managing to keep a good attitude through it all.

Jumping from relationship to relationship has allowed me to grow my emotional intelligence and how to communicate within the realms of intimacy. It also taught me to grow alongside someone. It also stopped me from learning how to be by myself. How to make myself a better version of myself without needing the support of a lover. The validation of another human being.

I needed to Learn to feel first and react later. To sit on my thoughts and figure out exactly how I felt about them with internal investigation.

One of the best parts of going through a life shattering break-up is the after math of it all. When you get to the process where you are ‘coming to terms with the way things are now.’

That time had taught me an immeasurably amount of self-control. (Which was often thwarted as I blacked out drinking Miller High-Life and Old Crow whiskey while listening to Ray Lamontage or Bob Dylan. Then decided that it would be a Great idea to call her at 6 am from across the country. I mean, how romantic….Right?!)

Now I have managed to control that overwhelming feeling when I hear her name. You know the feeling probably. That gut boiling-and-freezing at the same time. Wanting to scream endless profanities while also locking yourself into a padded room and embarrassingly crying as loud as possible. That feeling that pumps through your whole central nervous system whenever her name comes up.

I was able to just acknowledge those feelings. Something more like looking at a car crash from a distance instead of actually being inside of the vehicle.  Stopping myself from immediate reaction and allowing myself the time to digest what it is I am feeling once the cold sweat of PTSD resides.

Knowing that alone time isn’t actually ALONE time.

There is one thing that all human beings need to accept. Being by yourself does not mean that you are alone, at all. I always associated the time that I spent by myself as time that  was spent as a failure in this social world. Assuming I had no one around me because everyone though I was boring. This is most certainly NOT the case.

This is particularly hard when we are so invariably tied to cell phones, social media, and in constant contact with the world beyond our physical selves. I am no Zen Buddhist about this either. I may have a somewhat crippling addiction to the internet. Which is fine for now, but I acknowledge it.

I do recognize how restorative it is when I turn off my phone, or lose it, and just take myself out for a bike ride. I often stop for a cup of coffee and read a book. Maybe I will take myself out for a beer to decompress. Regardless of what it is I am doing, I am doing it with myself and looking on the experiences of life in the moment and of the ones that have passed. And knowing that I am spending some serious quality time with me.

Judgement starts to slip away the more time you invest with yourself. Judgement of yourself and judgement of others.

When I decided to make the commitment to spend an excessive amount of time by myself, I was overwhelmed. I started to hate-talk myself more than I usually did. I would spend a week or two at a time with minimal contact to any other human being. I started tearing myself inside and out, After sometime I began scaring myself. Entirely terrifying for a little while because I didn’t know how to control where my mind went when I was left to my own vices with little distraction.

I realized that I, and I alone, was the only person making me feel like I was inadequate. I had absolutely no one around me who would even have the chance to talk negatively about my character. I was still trying to destroy my own soul.

After some time, a few months, I decided to seriously stop talking negatively about myself. It took plenty of training because those thoughts are extremely invasive and have made themselves large proponents of persuasion in my mind.

I still don’t have it perfected to this day, but I know that when they appear that they are just a weak part of my past trying to prevent a stronger future from happening. I had to realize that I was worthy of my time and I was a person capable of sharing great moments of laughter and intimacy with other people, as well as myself.

Once I cut back on negative self-talk I was able to imagine myself as the person that I wanted to be, without judgement on who I currently am. This also allowed me to stop judging others actions so harshly at the same time. I have realized that as I have been experiencing my personal issues, other people had large personal issues of their own that were a part of their actions and reactions. Not who they are at their core.

Envisioning where I wanted to be has kept me on track with my life. I don’t know EXACTLY where that is, but I know that it’s healthy, happy, and accepting of people from all backgrounds.

Let’s talk about some serious travel when it comes to being alone.

If you have yet to travel alone, you need to do so. Now. Buy that ticket! Get out of dodge and go wander! I have never had such wonderful experiences and insurmountable levels of fun as I did wandering around New York City, Philadelphia, and Wilmington,NC. than when I was doing it alone.

Just imagine this for me. If only for a passing moment. Have you ever passed a place you wanted to check out and the person you were travelling with veto-ed it because of this or that? You then may have been thrown into a slightly negative mood. That place placates your mind for a few more blocks until you accept that you may never ever see what was inside. Maybe you got a bit upset at your travel partner for shutting off your fun and needed to compensate your interests for someone else.

Now take that partner out and imagine wandering. TRULY WANDERING. Around an entire city. Every choice you make can be on the flip of a dime. If you get lost, no one gets angry. You just begin to discover an area that you otherwise would have never experienced. Oh look! What’s that over there?! I am going to that place…RIGHT NOW. Are you hungry for Thai at 9 in the morning, go get some Thai! You want to go jump on a train and see where you end up? Yes. Do that!

Travelling because this endlessly exciting experience that has no end in sight because you are allotted the time and space to do just exactly as you please. It’s a soul growing experience and one of the most enjoyable things I have ever done in my life. If not THE most enjoyable experience of my life. Being alone and in a foreign area taught me about how interesting the world is, how much I want to meet different people, and that I am probably the best person on the entire planet for me to hang out with. I mean you really need to try this out. You have no idea how fun you are until you allow yourself to have fun.

You should cherish your alone time and use it as a tool for self-growth. As time passes, and work persists, and people grow and change, or stay the same, you are only left with yourself. 

It is terribly important to learn that you are possibly the most fun person you could spend time with.

Who else on this entire planet has the exact same interests, goals, beliefs, habits, and taste as you. YOU DO! Being your own best friend is one of the most rewarding lessons and life-long love relationships that you could possibly create.

Now get out there and fall in love with yourself and with the time you get to share with yourself. Do it for me, but mostly do it for the part of you who needs you the most. 

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