“If you make friends with yourself, you’ll never be alone.”
It’s been almost four weeks since I uprooted myself from Saskatchewan and re-planted myself in Toronto. We’re gunna say I’m just more of a potted plant for now because being fully planted into the ground feels a little too permanent and intense for me. Things are going well, and although people who only hear from me via social media must think all I’ve done is walk around and consumed 5000 coffees, I’ve done a lot more than that. Okay, maybe just a little more. Among the many cappuccinos and walks and lonely bus rides, there has been a lot of exploring (a more adventurous-sounding term for getting lost all. the. time.), many hours spent at the mall, a few solo movie dates, and an incredible amount of self-reflection. And I already thought I was someone who did a lot of self-reflection, even when I was busy working full time, being a university student, and having a fairly active social life. But young, naive me had no idea about the self-reflection that was about to go down in my near future.
Imagine moving to a city that you barely know anything about where you know nobody, don’t have a job, are not in school, and don’t know what you’re doing or where you’re going. It’s a weird experience. And I probably seem like a crazy person to many for even putting myself in this kind of situation. But it’s already resulted in me becoming even more independent than I already was, as I’ve had to figure out absolutely everything on my own. Thank GOD for Google Maps and the Internet, or else who knows where I would be. No idea how the pioneers did it, but major props to them.
While it’s been a huge challenge, I’ve learned a lot about myself in these few weeks. The first thing I’ve learned is that I have an awful sense of direction. I can now officially say that I’m the only person ever to make use of the Compass app that Apple forces you to have on your iPhone.
I’ve also learned that I’m extremely comfortable with being alone. And thank god, cause if wasn’t this way, I would have died about two weeks ago. I’ll be honest, sometimes it’s alarming to me just how okay I am with being by myself. I might complain a lot about being alone, but present me with an opportunity to meet someone new and I’ll try to get out of it 9 times out of 10. And I wonder why I’m still single. But more than anything, my comfort with being alone is a good thing. I like knowing that I can rely on myself more than anyone else, and that I can be so content in my own company. I have a really good relationship with myself, and this is the most important thing I’ve discovered over the past few weeks.
Having a good relationship with yourself does not mean always loving yourself. It is not being totally and completely OB-SESSED with yourself and thinking that you’re, like, totally awesome and cool, and that anyone would be lucky to be your friend. It’s understanding yourself. It’s knowing your strengths, but also knowing your weaknesses, and being okay with them. It’s knowing what makes you happy when you’re feeling sad, and knowing when all you maybe need is to let yourself be sad. It’s being comfortable spending hours on end by yourself when you don’t have anybody to surround yourself with. It’s being able to think about everything that you are and all of the things you’ve done, and know that even if they haven’t all been proud moments, they’ve taught you something. It’s not always being comfortable in your skin, but knowing that you’re worth the effort that goes into learning to love yourself more. It’s being there for yourself when you don’t know who to go to. It’s being your own best friend.
It would be amazing if having all of these components of a positive self-relationship came naturally to us. But unfortunately, we live in a world that encourages self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy, making it painfully hard at times to love yourself. But if I was to give some kind of riveting advice on the topic, I would say that the best way to work on your relationship with yourself is to spend quality time with yourself. Not with yourself and your phone, or with yourself and Netflix. Just yourself. Go for a walk and actually pay attention to the things around you. Go for coffee and write in a journal or read a book or eavesdrop on the people at the table next to you who are bitching about their job and their kids, and be thankful for the peacefulness that comes with going for coffee by yourself. Take yourself to the movies and realize that it’s the most relaxing experience you’ve ever had (and appreciate the absence of another hand grabbing at your popcorn). Make time for yourself the way you make time for the ones you love.
While I’ve done my share of complaining about how boring and lonely it is not knowing anyone around you, I have to say that the past few weeks have been exactly what I needed the first chapter of “Jenna’s Adventures in Toronto” to be. I feel so recharged and at peace with where I am, and I can’t wait for my next chapter. The one that will hopefully involve new friends, new places, and new experiences.