As I get older, I find myself enjoying my own company more and more. I wonder if this is an age thing, or even a female thing, but I know its certainly something that crept up on me and took me by surprise.
Pre-London, I would be quite happy to spend time doing my own thing, but this was limited to doing my own thing at home. If I had the house to myself, I would find myself enjoying gardening, baking or reading, but I was never on my own once I left the house.
This may’ve been the result of having a controlling monster of a boyfriend at the time, who insisted on going everywhere with me. I didn’t really know what it felt like to be on my own outside the house, therefore I didn’t miss it or even know that I needed it perhaps.
Moving to London was the first time I really ever found myself on my own. With few friends here, and the nature of my job resulting in making more enemies than friends in the early days, I spent a lot of time alone.
Maybe it was living in London that made me realise I had the freedom to be alone. All of a sudden, I found I was dining out alone, going for long walks on my own, sitting in the park on my own, or even going to the cinema on my own. And I was was enjoying it.
None of this had felt possible back home.
But in London, lots of people were doing the same thing, and therefore perhaps I felt less self conscious about doing things on my own. It was more acceptable. But was it really a London thing? Maybe I had just changed? Grown up a bit? Realised that time alone didn’t have to be isolating? In fact, maybe I had realised that I really, really needed time alone.
Sometimes being on my own did make me feel isolated in the early London days. For a short time, I shared a flat with a random guy who was either never at home, or sprawled across the couch eating out of a takeaway carton. I spent a lot of time sitting in my room with my door shut, working until midnight, because I had nothing else to do, with the exception of going on the odd date (thank god for Tinder back then!) or seeing the occasional friends for dinner.
I then met Ali, who I spent just over two years with. In the early days we were inseparable, and hated time apart. We moved in together after 6 weeks (partly due to the random flat share guy mentioned above who developed a completely irrational moth obsession!!), but mostly because we wanted to spend every waking moment with each other (when we weren’t at work of course!).
So it was pretty hard to admit a good 18 months into our relationship, that I needed some space. We were cooped up in a 1 bedroom flat and quite frankly it was getting too much. There was a moment when I thought the relationship had had its day, but then it dawned on me, I just needed some ‘me’ time. Some solitude in between work and my boyfriend coming home, or making the most of the weekends he is working and I am off.
This weekend, I treated myself to a 3 day weekend. Mostly because I needed to switch off from work for a few days, but also so I could get some headspace.
I sometimes get nervous about going out on my own, but I don’t let that stop me. There are also places I wouldn’t go to on my own, so I save those for the weekends my family or friends come to visit.
Today, I took myself off to Chelsea Physic Gardens, somewhere I had been wanting to visit since I realised they existed earlier this year. I couldn’t have chosen a better day to go. Although its September, the weather has been perfect, with clear blue skies and so much warmth still in the sun. Yet the leaves on the trees are just starting to turn, exciting the eyes and the senses in preparation for what is to come in the autumnal weeks ahead. I had never visited gardens on my own before, but I really enjoyed it. Lost in a world of medicinal plants, with the sun on my skin, enjoying my own thoughts. I took time to read the information boards around the gardens, noting the names of the plants and where in the world they were from. I also took time just to feel present. Admiring the plants and the autumn light pouring through the trees. Tasting the delicious goats cheese tart salad, and the amazingly incredible mouth watering almond and fruit frangipane.
A moment of solitude was just what the soul needed.