I have this tendency to have heart-to-hearts with my Lyft/Uber drivers even when I don’t feel like it. It’s because my Midwest roots don’t allow me to get into a car and not acknowledge the driver (although I do apologize profusely for not talking when I’m tired…I’m insufferable). We are so busy sometimes that we forget the importance of human interaction, but some of the most random people we run into give us the greatest advice at just the right times.
Enter my Lyft driver, who I’ll call John for the purpose of this entry. I was in a Lyft line (similar to UberPool for those unfamiliar), and the other passenger and I got to talking about the world of technology and how it’s changing things, both for good and for bad. We talked about the dating world (which I wrote about before) and how people are constantly looking for a new connection. John was silent this whole time, but then he randomly interjected,
“It’s okay to be alone. It’s okay to be lonely.”
The other passenger and I stopped in interest. John continued.
“I travel to Vegas alone all the time, and there’s such a stigma that I need to go with ‘the bros’ and have a huge party. But you know what? I have the best time when I’m alone. I meet people and do things that I would never be able to do if I had to coordinate a huge group. People find you more approachable when you’re alone. Weird? Maybe. But then those are the people that aren’t worth talking to. I enjoy doing things alone. I enjoy doing things for me. The dating world is crazy. People think that they need someone to make them happy but you don’t. It’s okay to be alone when you make yourself happy, when you make your own story.”
I loved this. A few months ago I wrote about feeling alone in the city, and it was really tough on me. I had a therapist in the summer, and I was constantly worried about my dating life. “Am I finding my value through men? I feel like I’m just looking for someone the same way [insert ex] would comfort me. To fill a void. Should I even be dating right now? Shouldn’t I be alone?”
My therapist told me that dating post-relationship is healthy. The feelings I had, however, were not.
The truth is, I left a three year relationship where I had constant, day to day interaction with my ex-boyfriend. I was so used to daily validation, daily comfort, daily love, that when we broke up I felt empty. I felt void. I felt lost. I felt so alone. I hated it. I missed having someone to talk to when it was a little too quiet. I missed having someone agree with me even when I was in the wrong. I missed having someone constantly compliment me when I felt a little low about myself.
But through those months, I eventually I learned to be okay with being alone.
I learned to trust myself, to go to concerts alone and meet people. To go for the music, and to leave with a great experience.
I learned that no one notices when you’re watching a movie alone in the dark. They go to the movie theater to watch a movie.
I learned to revel in the silence and enjoy the lack of noise.
I re-learned how to strike up conversation with random people; how to transition from small talk to real talk. I’ve re-learned live social interaction, because I started to rely on apps and internet forums to meet new people. I’ve gotten asked out on more dates by talking to strangers than I ever did through Bumble/Tinder/[insert dating app] swiping.
I learned more about my fears and more about my strengths. I’ve learned that I’m stronger than I thought I was.
I learned to differentiate between the hobbies that actually interested me, and the ones I just did to look cool.
I learned that people in general don’t really notice when you’re doing things alone. When they do notice, they think it’s cool. If they don’t, they don’t matter anyways.
I learned to stop doing things for other people. I learned to start doing things that made me happy, regardless if I had someone to go with or not. I’ve learned to stop doing things to make people like me; instead, I do things because I genuinely want to do them.
I learned to compliment myself when I felt like I looked hot. I learned how to accept myself when I felt like shit. I learned to face the fact that I was wrong and fix my mistakes instead of having someone take my side. I learned that I don’t need someone else to make me happy if I can make myself happy.
Through being alone, I learned more about myself than the first 25 years of my life.
That’s not to say we should do everything alone. There is always room for a morning latte and gossip with your best friend. If you know someone who enjoys the same music as you, it’s okay to go to a concert together. The point of this post is that life can be enjoyed even if you don’t always have someone to enjoy it with all the time. The point is that we can do things alone and it’s okay. The point is that we don’t needsomeone else to fill our spirit when we can fill it ourselves.
“This Lyft is deep,” the other passenger responded to John, and we laughed.
“It’s okay to be alone,” I agreed.