Being Alone

I’m giving into temptation and blogging, even though it’s 12.25am and I should be winding down for the night. I just got in from work 30 minutes ago. I biked home from the office while listening to music. I locked my bike up outside, and I came up into the flat. I grabbed a big bottle of water from the fridge. I closed the curtains. I opened the mail, and I peeked on social media. I read a few articles online I had bookmarked throughout the day, and then I started getting ready for bed. Yes, it sounds really boring and super trivial, but this is my new normal. And today, it actually felt normal. Like there wasn’t a hole. Like there wasn’t supposed to be someone in the apartment, waiting to greet me as I walked in. I liked crawling into bed alone. I’m ok to close the curtains and turn off all the lights by myself. I didn’t have to worry about cooking someone else dinner, or getting home from work late. And today, all of these boring things that have maybe felt sad, or misplaced in the past, just felt normal. Like this is my life, and it’s totally cool.

I’m going to tell you something scary and new.

I don’t want to be in a relationship, and I really don’t care about getting married, having babies, being a family, being responsible, moving through life, thinking about what’s next.

Isn’t that crazy?

I remember being a senior in college, and having a conversation with a girlfriend about being single. Neither of us were in relationships at the time, and we were both concerned as we were 22 and solo. Can you believe that? 22 and concerned. Even when I did meet Ben, when we had our first, second, third, and fourth year anniversary . . . when he proposed . . . when he told me he wanted to spend his life with me . . . I felt relieved. Like I had sorted out something big that was on a list I was meant to tick off. I felt like I had achieved a milestone in my life that other people were typically worried about, or spent a lot of time searching for.

Oddly enough, after everything I’ve been through, I have this strange, grey feeling of complacency in my chest. Relationships? Meh. Kids? Meh. Boyfriends? Meh. I think this is the first time in ten years I haven’t really cared about finding ‘the one’, settling down, or moving on to whatever (whoever) is next.

I never really understood girls who liked being single. Who said they didn’t want a boyfriend. I just couldn’t comprehend it, and I always thought they had to be lying. That they were secretly sad they were single, that they felt lonely before falling asleep at night. But on nights like tonight, when I get home and open the post, surf the web, crawl into bed, and don’t talk to anyone else but myself in my head, I feel utterly content. And now I realize how narrow-minded I have been.

It’s probably because I’ve always felt lonely. Even when I was with Ben, some nights before I fell asleep, I would feel sad, because when I closed my eyes and started dreaming, I would be alone. But guess what? I live in Amsterdam, while all of my family and life-long friends live in the US. I have an apartment here, a job. I take care of myself, and I am completely independent. I am more alone than I have ever been in my entire life. And for whatever crazy-odd reason, I don’t feel alone. I don’t feel sad. I don’t feel like anything is missing.

Which makes me think, maybe I’ve been looking for the wrong thing all along. I’ve spent the majority of my adult life looking for the one, searching for love. Wanting to fill a hole, to find my other half. But maybe all I really needed to find . . . was myself. Maybe I am my other half. Maybe I am the voice of reason, the unconditional lover, the string that ties my crazy mind to the ground.

I’m 27. I’m single. And yet for the first time in my life, I’ve never felt more complete.

And that’s pretty fucking cool.

36 Replies to “Being Alone”

  1. That’s awesome you feel complete. So many people strive for that, and not everyone succeeds. People sometimes try to find that sense of completeness in other people, but find themselves still feeling lonely. I believe this is because we have to feel confident and complete alone before we can be with someone else.


  2. I LOVE this post! Keep doing it, living for yourself, enjoying life and build your world. Eventually, the right one will cross paths with you and it’s ok if it’s not before you are 30 or 35. It was after I decided to be single and to work on who I wanted to be (not who I was for a guy) that happiness came into my life and it was myself that created the happiness, not a man….then the guy spotted me. haha

    Good job!


    1. I’ve given up on age or caring how old I get, I’m totally trusting fate on this one ;) And it’s crazy how many people have told me that – love comes when you least expect it, when you’re intent on focusing on yourself, when you make a conscious decision to be alone . . . . I have NO idea why this tends to be the case!! I’m kind of hoping the universe gives me some time on this one. But I do love that you never quite know who you’re going to meet (relationship, friendship, etc). Having people come into life, unannounced, and make it so much better is one of the best parts of living!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think it is because when you are simply living to be the best person you can be instead of trying to be who someone else wants you to be or being the girl on the hunt for someone you have a certain confident glow about you that eventually (hopefully) attracts the person who will appreciate you for exactly who you are and support you in it. I agree that those who pop in unexpectedly are one of the best parts of living. :) (just be careful too, there are some cray cray out there)


    1. I have a girlfriend who went camping in the woods by herself recently, for 48 hours. She didn’t see anyone or speak to another soul for two whole days. When she told me, it sounded scary and lonely. But then I realized that being alone and being lonely are two completely different things :) And now I’m considering a life-detox trip for myself!


  3. I have been loving your blog for quite some time now, and I oddly find myself eagerly awaiting each one as everything you write is honest and inspiring. Today I feel the need to comment as I am ohhh so happy for you. You have discovered what I try to impart to each of my friends when they find themselves single. Happiness is what you make it, therefore you are the only one that can make you happy, no one knows you better then you, its liberating when you realise it but no one can tell you, you have to find it out for yourself. Your attitude to life is so positive that its infectious and your strength of character shines through with each new post.
    Keep smiling Ali, I think its what you do best :)


    1. What a lovely comment. I’m glad you enjoy reading. Sometimes blogging feels like a one-way channel, so it’s always very refreshing to hear that, yes, people do enjoy what I have to say form time to time ;) I was reading How To Win Friends And Influence People a few months back, and one thing that really stood out was the author’s perception on happiness. He compared two people, living identical lives. Both people woke up in the same house, went to the same job, and came home to the same family. But at the end of the day, one was happy, and one was sad. In the end, the author decided that it all came down to choice. Happiness is a choice, positivity is a choice. We can define our own outlook, and our own benchmark for happiness. I think your comment is spot on! And yes, the smiles will keep on coming, as long as I have a choice in the matter :)


  4. Right on! I totally know how you feel, there’s something in American culture that’s a little alarm reminding us to check live up to so many outside expectations and tick off all the boxes, even though we all move on different schedules and wandering paths. Enjoying time on your own is so important and healthy for your spirit. It’s such a powerful thing to be independent, living an adventure abroad and growing into yourself. You’re actually living the dream right now! Not many people can say they have fully experienced that chapter but we probably all should at some point.


  5. This is great! I’m in a similar situation, though some days I struggle with being “alone” so this is really going to (hopefully) help me get to a feeling of completeness too :) thanks!


    1. You will get there! When I first came back from the USA and was tasked with resuming ‘normal’ life in Amsterdam, I slept on and off for two days, and woke up crying every time because I was so shocked at what ‘normal’ was. It was like waking up to a bad dream. But time really does help condition your mind. And after a few weeks, months, being able to starfish out in the bed as big as you’d like becomes a luxury :) And every time you are alone, you are practicing for the next time you are alone. And it becomes easier and easier, better and better each time :)


  6. I like your mindset! I agree that we have to be complete on our own, but when you reach that, you can still long for someone that you can be even happier with. Expecting someone to make us complete can be a trap.


  7. I don’t think I can stop talking if I start, about how similar our experiences seem to be. And, in all probability that will not make sense either :) That said, I can not help but put these lines for you out here. Hoping they will soothe you as well…

    “When you walk to the edge of all the light you have and take that first step into the darkness of the unknown, you must believe that one of two things will happen. There will be something solid for you to stand upon or you will be taught to fly.”
    Patrick Overton, The leaning tree


  8. I really enjoyed reading this and envy you so much! The old you sounds like me, I am 23. I am in a relationship and when we aren’t together I am a tad pathetic. Need to start enjoying myself but not sure where to start and that is hard!!


    1. It is hard, especially when you have the luxury of a relationship to keep you company. A while back, I made my sister a list of all the fun things she could do by herself (silly things like knit, draw, read a book, bake, write letters to our Gramma, sort through old photos, etc) and she would use the list as inspiration to fill her alone time. Are there alone things you like to do? Try picking a few and using them as your go-to alone habits. That way you’re sure to have something fun and interesting waiting when the alone time does strike :)


  9. Loving yourself is the first step to being able to love someone else. I think it is fantastic that you are taking the time to get to know yourself. You are a fantastic girl and our lives have only just begun. Enjoy your life!


  10. You’re on the right track. After traumatic experiences like breakups, it’s always best to take care of yourself first. It’s also a good policy in general. Relationships should be a bonus to a life that’s already awesome. Wishing you the best.


  11. Bravo once again Ali for putting something raw and truthful out there. I think the world we live in makes a lot of women finding the perfect man to settle down and raise a family with: films are full of it and women’s magazines cover it from every angle. It seems to tie in with the image pushed on us to be perfect. It’s hard when someone decides to break up with you, because they took the control away and made a really big decision for you. Whilst both parties will ultimately hurt, the party who got left often experiences more hurt and confusion initially. However, I believe there’s more than one person out there in the world for us, maybe we’ll meet all of them, maybe we’ll only ever meet one or two of them. But your focus right now does not need to be about relationships or children if you don’t want it to be – that is your choice. Enjoy your life Ali, enjoy your routine (even the mundane elements) and continue to be happy and to be kind to yourself – it’s all part of moving forward after a break-up. As many people have said in the comments above, a relationship is the cherry on top of the cake and not a substitute for self-worth or happiness. Sending lots of positive vibes your way, Lou xx


    1. Thanks for the sweet comment Lou :) I think you are spot on. For the past 3 months I’ve completely let go of dreams, hopes, plans, expectations . . . and all things considered life has actually been a breeze. I’m going to London this weekend to visit a girlfriend, and I’m so looking forward to just wandering the streets, drinking a good coffee, being lazy on her couch . . . and just letting life come!! x


  12. I’m a photographer in Maine and someone posted your list of barns on a Facebook photo group. I was drawn in and asked in the group if anyone shot your wedding. A girl responded that she thinks it didn’t happen.
    So of course the romantic in me had to find out why. I’ve searched around your blog and fallen in love with your words, adventures and spirit. But this post is what made me smile from the inside. I’m a girl with a similar story, and a man who left me with “I was going to ask you to marry me, and already have the ring picked out, but I think we should take a break” while hooking up with a girl he met while in the role of her high school teacher (don’t get me started!)
    The pain happened, but in the end finally feeling independently complete makes it all worthwhile. Not caring if a man ever enters the picture is pure beauty. Congrats! :D


    1. Hi Kate – thanks for your note. (and on that, agh, a high school student?! that’s absurd!!) Being so open about things on the blog has been a strange and rewarding experience. It seems that so many people have gone through something similar. It’s been comforting to know I’m not alone, and also, that so many other people have come to the same conclusions that I have. This summer was hard but the past few months I have felt stellar. Sometimes I have to stop and think, is it normal to feel this strong and happy after something so crazy has happened in my life? But I guess the answer is that I have re-found the most important person (myself) and accepting that person and loving them *should* feel this great :) Thank you again for your note xo


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