March 10th, 2017
Story originally written and experienced: April 10th, 2015
It was the first time I’d ever done it.
Well, the first time in four years since moving to New York City—stayed in alone on a Friday night with a big bag of Chinese food—that was all for me—and be completely okay with it.
I know that sounds strange.
Why wouldn’t it be okay? The only reasoning I could think of was:
I’ve been hardwired since birth to function as if there’s constantly an adventure, conversation, or friendship I should be investing in every minute of the day.
It’s a self-inflicted pressure driven by curiosity and an ongoing lust for constant discovery.
Hence the rarity of the occasion.
And exactly why this Friday night filled with sesame chicken and fried rice felt so vital to me.
It was the evening of April 15, 2015, and I was sitting in my 6th-floor apartment sifting through a cRiNkLeD Chinese bag, snapping my chopsticks a part ,wrapping a fleece robe around my body, and tucking my feet beneath me on the couch while I rested my food on my lap.
I looked out my living room window.
It had an unapologetically perfect view of the Empire State Building that I loved, especially because it changed colors every night. Tonight, it was a series of many, and I watched it glow from hue to hue as I took the first bites of my food.
I started thinking while I ate.
About how much more secluded I had been for the last couple of weeks. Still sprinkles of a social life, but certainly more secluded. I wondered why I was doing it on purpose and narrowed it down to 2 particular things:
1. I realized I was in my twenties, I was living in the most exciting city on the planet, and for a night, I had my apartment all to myself. And I knew one day this would feel like a luxury. One day, I’d have a family I’d have to share every minute of my life with, and eating Chinese food alone because it feels like a fun idea could very well feel like an eventual impossibility.
2. I wanted to know with absolute certainty that I was A-Ok being alone.
But it’s a notion I worried that I struggled with and have seen others struggle with too. I wanted to ensure I was completely content in my own company, no matter how fleeting or elongated the time period may be. Because the only person I’m guaranteed to have to hang out with every moment of every day for the rest of my life, is me.
So I may as well guarantee it’ll be a good time.
Thing is, I’m socially driven. And while I think that’s a wonderful thing, I was unsure of how much of that was motivated by genuine joy and how much of it was propelled by the fear of being alone. So I started staying in alone and eating alone every once in a while on purpose. And over time, it went from feeling like a self test to an absolute necessity. And suddenly, I craved spending high-quality time with people I damn liked just as much as I did shutting my door and watching whatever I wanted and writing whatever I wanted for hours on end.
It was amazing.
It’s what I needed.
And I fell in love with it.
In the modern day, I feel pockets of alone time becoming less and less tangible for most everyone I know.
It’s a good problem to have.
Our lives are becoming so fulfilling that it’s easy to see how alone time can easily fall to the wayside.
But I’ve also witnessed how just an afternoon, evening, or even hour away—just to care of yourself—works absolute wonders.
So my point is.
I hope in any walk of life, designated time for ourselves is something we will always make room for, stay loyal to, and damn appreciate when it’s there.
It’s too important.