solo /ˈsōlō/, n., adj.

Almost three years ago, I wrote a stuck-up, holier-than-thou blog about spending time by yourself and doing things for yourself in the name of self-care. I remembered writing this (more specifically, what I’d written as the title), so when I had the inspiration this week to write about the same subject, I dug up my old blog post to review, to see if I’d grown or matured at all since.

I hyperlinked the post, but I’d prefer if you didn’t read it because I, myself, was already plenty disappointed in the “take home message” my former self had written. There’s no need for you to suffer through that, too.

In short, I’d concluded that there was joy to be found in spending intentional, exclusive time alone.  “I kept myself busy doing things for myself,” I’d written, not realizing that it was a hugely simplistic and self-centered conclusion that failed to address many potential underlying issues. (Read: Me. I fail to address any problems I have.)

To be fair, I was three years younger at the time of my previous blog post, so perhaps there’s some forgiveness to be granted. But that still begs the question: “What’s your new conclusion, after rereading your blog post?”

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Even the seagulls aren’t alone | Photo by Courtney Cheng

The answer to that question begins with my last blog post from two weeks ago, when Candle Boy went on a two-week-long European adventure with some friends, without me. (No, Candle Boy did not bring me home a Harry Styles.) During that time, I had at least five different people ask me where he was when I showed up to things, alone. I responded, depending on when they asked, “London/Paris/Amsterdam/Europe.”

The longer Candle Boy’s vacation went, the responses I received to my update on his location also changed: “Oh man, he’s so lucky!” “He’s still gone?” “Wait, when is he coming back?”

When my answer to that last question was finally, “Tomorrow,” my friend joked, “Guess your bachelorette times are ending then, huh?”

“Sadly,” I said, with only the slightest hint of irony. (Candle Boy, if you’re reading this, I did miss you and would like you to remain stateside, s’il vous plaît.)

As adults, our relationships with our significant others are much different from what they were like in college. For college students, it isn’t uncommon to become great friends with the roommates of your significant other because you spend so much time at their place, with their roommates. For adults, it’s not uncommon to spend just one day each week with your partner because of distance or other factors, and some might even be in long-distance relationships for years.

I tend to be a clingy sort of person, so my hope is that I’ll be able to spend quite a decent amount of time with my human on a regular basis. It is nice to have them around, yes, I’ll never disagree with this. However, after several relationships and time for retrospect, I realize this tendency causes me to run a much higher risk of forming any type of dependence on my human because of our proximity.

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Candle Boy, my human | Photo by Courtney Cheng

My 21-year-old self’s “I kept myself busy doing things for myself” conclusion was likely my best attempt at scratching the surface of this self-discovery. I suddenly knew what it felt like to live without feeling dependent or secondary to another person—like how these past two weeks have been, in present day.

This feeling of freedom is likely why a lot of articles for millennial women unpack the values of being a single woman. I won’t argue against them. There is a lot of fun to be had as a bachelorette (even if I was a faux-bachelorette), but being single isn’t the catch-all solution whenever someone finds themselves leaning on their significant other, or even just one of their friends.

Honesty is a better solution. Then, likely time and space for change, communication, patience, constant vigilance (“Constant vigilance!”), and more honesty.

The older I get, the more often I re-realize how difficult it is to find balance—whether it’s in regards to work v. personal, family v. friends, self v. partner, partner v. friends, self v. family, or something else altogether. But I’m looking forward to balancing these see-saws. If anything, I’ll most certainly use the phrase “strong, independent woman” a whole lot in the near future.

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