This post was originally published on 16th September 2018 and updated on 2nd August 2020
As I get older, I find myself enjoying my own company more and more. Perhaps it’s an age thing, but whatever it is, it crept up on me and took me by surprise.
Pre-London, I would be quite happy to spend time doing my own thing at home, particularly if I found I had the house to myself. Sadly, these times were rare.
At the time, I was living with someone who was the epitome of controlling. Wherever I went, he insisted on going with me. I didn’t know what it felt like to be on my own outside of our house, therefore I didn’t miss my own company. Nor did I realise how much I needed it.
Moving to London was the first time I really ever found myself on my own. With few friends here, and a job which took up not just my normal working hours, but a lot of my free time too, all of a sudden I was spending a lot of time either at work, or at home alone.
Living in London made me realise I had the freedom to be alone. I found myself dining out alone, going for long walks on my own, sitting in the park on my own, and even going to the cinema on my own. And I loved it. I felt free.
None of this had felt possible back home. But here, lots of people were doing the same thing. I felt less self conscious doing things on my own in the city. It felt 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 lonely or isolating? In fact, maybe I had realised that I just really, really needed some alone time. Perhaps it was time to discover who I really was.
It wasn’t all roses of course. Sometimes, there were days when I did feel lonely. I would be walking in the park and I’d see groups of friends together, laughing and having fun. I would get a pang of jealousy or envy, and carry on with whatever I was doing. I never did quite manage to master the art of finding ‘London’ friends.
After a year in London, I starting seeing someone who I was with for just over two years in the end. In the early days we were inseparable and moved in together after just 6 weeks…
It was pretty hard to admit 18 months into our relationship, that I needed some space. We were cooped up in a 1 bedroom flat and quite frankly everything was getting too much. I was craving my own company.
So I started to make the most of the free time I had before he came home from work and at weekends when he was working. I compiled a ‘London’ Bucket List and every weekend I made it my mission to tick something else off the list.
Not long after that, things came to a head, and our relationship came to an abrupt end. Remind me never to move in with someone after 6 weeks ever again…although ironically my dad proposed to my mum after just 6 weeks, and 37 years later they are still happily married. Anyway that’s a story for another day.
I still sometimes get nervous about going out on my own, but I don’t let that stop me. There are some places I wouldn’t go on my own, so I save those for the weekends my family or friends come to visit.
Even now, although I’m in what is probably the healthiest relationship I have been in, I still love spending time on my own. It’s great when we spend time together, but I’m always ready for some quiet ‘me time’ when he heads home.
If I don’t get enough time alone, I start to feel out of sorts. I get irritable and ratty. The good thing is that I’m getting better at being able to identify when I need that time alone. I now just need to get better at telling people I need some time out.
I took the photo below in Udaipur, India earlier this year. Even on this trip, although it was great to be able to travel with a group of fairly like minded people, I missed having time alone. One of my favourite days of the trip was in Udaipur, where we had some free time to go and do as we pleased. So I took myself off to City Palace and I spent the morning meandering through the palace, soaking up the bank holiday vibes, before finding myself a cafe overlooking the streets of Udaipur to have some lunch.
I felt at peace with myself once more.
Solitude really is good for the soul.
I’d love to hear from you about spending time alone. Do you crave alone time? Or are you in the camp that dislikes their own company? Are you able to ‘tactfully’ tell people when you need some time to yourself? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments box below.
In the meantime, I hope you’ve all had a lovely weekend, and found some time, even if it was just a few moments, for some peace and quiet.