Learning to Live Alone


Bon Iver – 8 (circle)

I used to say I’m my worst self when I’m alone. I would shake my head and furrow my brow like it was the darndest thing, this trying to live well without anyone watching. And worse, the living alone in a city where I knew only a few family members and coworkers (admittedly, exceptional folk).

It takes time to build community, even for this extrovert. I say this to encourage you: these things take time in the best circumstances; it’s not you. Building community is not rocket science, but it can be slow. For me it is in fits and starts. What I can recommend is that you show up again and again, to church or small group or whatever social group you’ve committed to. Show up for coffee or a walk or dinner or whatever offer you propose or accept. Keep showing up. And accept that time alone does not mean something is wrong. It’s okay to have nothing to report on Monday when your coworkers inquire about what they can only assume was your fascinating weekend. It’s more than okay to like spending time with your parents and count phone calls as real social encounters.

This may not be how you expected your mid-twenties to look and feel, but if you’re anything like me, you had no idea what to expect even a few years ago. It would be a bit silly to hold yourself to that standard. My solitary life rotates on a reel of treasures my former selves couldn’t have seen. There’s a closeness with my family I never imagined embracing, a deep repose in Tiny Apartment with its creature comforts, work that teaches me more about myself than I’d like to know, a community that continues to grow and surprise me. It is good. And for me to live continuously in a state where I don’t believe it is good would be wrong.

I used to say I’m my worst self when I’m alone, but I wouldn’t say that anymore.


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