I like being on my own, something which is a rare luxury in a 24/7 society and with a two-year-old in tow. I like having my own space and doing whatever I want without worrying about someone else. My current favourite daydream is to have a plush hotel suite in a big city, a huge stack of books, enough money to do whatever I want and at least three museums within walking distance. I’d do all this by myself for a couple of days before returning home. It’s selfish, yes, but that’s the point of a daydream, isn’t it?
The thing is, with the rise of lifestyle blogs (of which this is probably one, albeit a grannyfied one that only interests you if you like not leaving the house very often) and the thing that glossy magazines insist on labelling as ‘fear of missing out’ or ‘FOMO’, we’re all in a constant state of being busy or wanting to be seen to be busy, documenting everything for our followers. I’m as guilty of that as anyone. But I love, relish and appreciate being utterly alone.
When I first left uni, I lived on my own for six months and never really appreciated the space it gave me. I do, however, have fond memories of lying in bed on Sundays, reading magazines and not caring if I got crumbs everywhere. The quiet of my own place- essentially a tiny room in a huge converted Gothic mansion in Leeds- when contrasted with the hellish noise of shared student accommodation was wonderful.
Now I’m more likely to relish having D in bed, Benn out somewhere and a House marathon on Netflix, but the effect is the same. It’s even better if it’s a weekend or the holidays. The not having to be somewhere, or having to force myself to interact with people is blissful.
Of course, there’s a world of difference between being alone and being lonely. I’m very rarely alone and can choose not to be if I want. An important part of keeping my depression at bay is to make sure I see people on a regular basis and I’m lucky enough to have friends nearby (also: Twitter.) I know that some people don’t have that luxury and, at certain times in my life, it’s felt like I didn’t have that either. Hopefully this means that I appreciate my friends all the more.
Being alone is good for the soul, I think. It gives us time to think, to be selfish in a self-contained way and to process things without interruption (even if that is episode 4, season 3 of House.) If we don’t allow ourselves to have proper, unstructured time alone, we’re going to go mad.