I grew up with a lot of fears and anxiety. But what tormented me the most was being alone. My sister and I are only 13 months apart and we shared a room for most of our childhood. The second we got our own rooms, though, I refused to sleep in it — I just couldn’t bare the thought of being by myself.
As I got older, it only got worse. No matter where I went or what I did, I always wanted someone to come with me. It was the comfort of having someone right there, by my side, that helped me.
And then I became a mom. Suddenly, all of those times that I’d begged for someone to keep me company for every step of my entire life was a reality — right there at my fingertips! And I didn’t even have to ask. My fear could easily be thrown out the window, because not only did I have someone by my side all the time, but I also no longer had the option of being alone.
When I was younger, I associated the thought of being alone with being lonely. The very reason it made me anxious was because I was so scared of what others would think when they saw me all by myself. My lack of confidence in myself not only prohibited me from going places, but it also kept me from trying new things. It stopped me from studying abroad when I had the chance. It prevented me from meeting up with friends when I feared I’d be the first one to show up. I almost didn’t even go to the university I did, because I was so afraid to go off and live on my own.
But now, I realize that being alone doesn’t mean that you’re lonely. In fact, it means just the opposite. It means that you have enough confidence in yourself and your thoughts that you are completely comfortable with you.
Before I had kids, I used to ask my girlfriends to accompany me to the restroom when we were out, just because I didn’t want to go by myself. Now I’m lucky if I don’t have an audience in the bathroom with me when I have to go. I’d choose to pick up food from a restaurant and bring it home to eat with my family or friends, just because I feared being that table of one. Now, I’ll gladly go to a restaurant and be seated as a party of one, because that means I can actually sit down and enjoy a hot meal with zero interruptions.
After kids, the time you have to yourself becomes sacred — something that should never be taken for granted ever, because you have so very little of it, and it all slips right through your fingers.
It took me 26 years to learn that being alone is nothing to fear at all. In fact, it’s something to celebrate. Take pride in those few precious seconds (or minutes, if you’re lucky) bask in the silence. Whether it’s to think a complete thought, savor one sip of your morning coffee, or yes, even pee alone.