Recently a good friend of mine calls me up seeking advice. After ten years of being in a relationship her boyfriend (now ex) told her he wanted to “do his own thing.” “Katie, I don’t know what to do. How do I become so independent and OK with being alone, like you?” Hearing her voice on the other end of the phone I could tell tears had just falling from her face. What do you tell a girl that is fresh out of a relationship that lasted almost half of her life? I had to think back to my own experience and remember what it was like to be a newly single woman. From the time I was sixteen until I was twenty there was a man in my life. When leaving a long term relationship it is difficult to understand who you are. For someone that has almost always been noted as a couple it is hard to imagine what it is like to be alone, at times it can be terrifying. But let me tell you, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Be alone with your thoughts no matter how terrifying they may be at times, think about all the things you’ve always wanted to accomplish, and live day by day. These are the three keys to being ok with being alone. Stop living life looking for a person to cling onto and start living life looking for you.
“Katie, what is the first step in becoming more independent?”
Living day by day:
I’m not an expert and my advice might even be meaningless towards your situation, after all we are all very different. There are no rules and there really is no first step; but, I would recommend taking things day by day. Stop thinking about whether or not you envision him in your future. If he is in the picture ten years from now and you are happy, that’s wonderful. But, if he is not that’s ok too. Today it is just you so live that way. Ask yourself, “What am I going to do today?” “What do I want to do?” Think of it as freedom. There is no one holding you back from being the person you want to be.
Be alone with your thoughts:
After you ask yourself what it is you would like to do…do it. Go to a museum alone, see a movie that you’ve always wanted to see, take a yoga class. Whatever it is you’re interested in just do it. When you do these things by yourself you are forced to listen to your thoughts. When your mind is clear and you can hear what you are thinking you will finally be able to understand who you are as a person. When you know who you are, you will know what you want out of life.
Think of what you’ve always wanted to accomplish:
Sometimes when you are with someone your desires can be overshadowed by your relationship. When you are finally alone you are able to fulfill your dreams without having to worry about anyone else but yourself. Basically, you can be selfish. Travel the world, take classes in whatever, write a book… When I think about the person I’ve become since I’ve left my relationship two years ago I am proud of myself. I’ve accomplished more in these two years because I haven’t had to worry about anyone but myself. Take this time you have for yourself and accomplish whatever it is your heart desires. Turn your dreams into goals and accomplish them.
This path is not easy. Even years down the road you may want to give up; however the reward is greater than the pain. The experiences, confidence, and strength you will gain from this time will make this a very defining moment in your life. Liberate yourself from all emotional barriers that once restricted your life and become the person you’ve always known you could become.