Singles’ Day: How Staying Single After My Breakup Taught Me How Important It Is To Be Alone
A breakup is one of the most emotionally taxing things one can go through. I feel like we don’t treat them as seriously now just because of how common relationships and consequently breakups have gotten. But, losing someone you love is painful no matter the reason or context. But after all emotions from the breakup settle, how do you move on from the pain? How do you learn to identify yourself outside of your relationship and ex-partner? These were questions that flooded my mind over a year ago when I broke up with my ex. At the time, I had been in and out of serious relationships before my ex and I dated for over a year. That relationship gave me the time to realise everything wrong with how I was approaching my romantic relationships. Not only had I not been giving myself time to heal from a breakup, I would be so emotionally invested in them that I had no idea how to hold my own when I was a girlfriend. I would end up being a caricature of my boyfriend’s expectations and needs without fully understanding my own. All this would eventually lead to me being unhappy and dissatisfied with the relationship pushing it to its eventual doom. So after my breakup, I actively chose to remain single and figure out who I was outside of my romantic endeavors. On this Singles’ Day, let’s talk about how that has gone for me.
I won’t lie, it wasn’t easy for me in the beginning after the breakup. I realised how hard it was for me to not fall into my old patterns. I had deleted dating profiles that I had had for years. And now that I’d decided to not fall into the same unhealthy pattern of coping with breakups by getting validated by men, I had to figure out a way to handle the loss of my relationship. One of the things that helped was something that has always helped me during traumatic events: escaping into the world of fiction. Be it through writing or reading, I have realised that the world of fiction has always created a comfortable bubble which I can escape into. This is when I discovered anime and what a discovery it has been! Over a year later and I am a complete weeb but let’s not go into me fangirling right now. It might sound absurd but anime helped me cope and distract myself from the breakup and the lowkey existential crisis I was going through.
Then one day and I woke up and decided that I wanted to learn to be comfortable being by myself. I am an introvert but my social anxiety always makes me want company in public places. And I didn’t want to need people anymore. I am not trying to be like an edgy emo girl and that isn’t the context I am talking about in any way. I found that I had been bound to the attention and validation that my relationships gave me to an extent that they became my identity. And I wanted to reclaim that. To me, that meant truly being comfortable in my own company, no matter how nerve-wracking that would be. I started small; coffee dates by myself with a book. I went to a local Starbucks (or a cheaper cafe on days I was broke) and just lost myself in a book while I sipped on some drink. I did this for a while until I got comfortable being in my own company.
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After this, I decided to complete one of my biggest bucket list things: going on a solo trip. Now a “solo trip” is an overstatement for what I did but I will discuss it. I went to Matheran for a weekend. Yeah, yeah, it is not a big deal but my God did I have a fun time! I went around the market place by myself, did some shopping and even went to all the attraction points on a horse. And as I sat there at sunset point at the end of my eventful weekend, I felt free. Free of my discomfort with myself, free of my self-consciousness, free of a lot of my insecurities. I teared up at the thought of being alone and okay and how reassuring this trip has been to my own individuality.
Since then, I have been going to therapy and while I still have a long way to go, I know that I will be okay. Being single after a relationship might seem daunting and scary. But being single isn’t a bad thing. I realised that I was never fully comfortable in my relationships either because I personally wasn’t okay with myself. How could I expect to be loved without inhibitions if I couldn’t even acknowledge my individuality? I feel like being a literature student, I grew up to be a hopeless romantic. And the idea of being “fixed” be someone’s unconditional love appealed to me. But that isn’t how reality works, does it? In reality, we come into this world alone and that’s exactly how we go. We are our own “saviours”. We have to pick up our broken selves and fix ourselves to be better people not for a partner but for our own selves. Because in the end, aren’t we the ones who have to live with ourselves forever?