I read somewhere that solitude isn’t the absence of love, but its complement. Depending on how you look at it, this could be true or false. According to me though, this is true. I think the greatest and most difficult love affair is with ourselves. I mean, who can confidently say that they love who they are at all times? And it has taken me twenty years to get comfortable in my skin. And even now, I wouldn’t say I am an expert at it. I mean, I still have moments when I look in the mirror and I am like, “who is that??” a case example would be my relationship with my hair. I have typical African hair. To say the least, it is not very easy to maintain. That is why, it is always braided. But you see the bad thing about braiding your hair constantly is that your hairline recedes greatly. So I recently undid my hair, and yeah, my hairline is saddening. So I decided I would just keep an afro for a while, let the edges grow back. And most of the time, it is great, because my head feels so much lighter. The problem is, I am so used to how I look with braids it has become an essential part of my image perception. So every once in a while I look in the mirror and a part of me just feels less prettier, less attractive and so for the next ten minutes or so I have to remind myself that beauty is skin deep and there is very little the amount of hair on your head does to improve that.

And that is just an example, the least of my insecurities. I mean, I would love to sit here and put myself on some pedestal, but I’m human and I have spent a great deal of these past few years working on accepting my flaws and all, so I’ll just be candid about it. I have spent a lot of time by myself these past year and I have come to appreciate the value of solitude. I mean, it wasn’t easy, there are nights I wanted to jump out my window. There are nights I was so miserable, so much so, I would get so worked up by how silent my phone is. Like, why is nobody texting me? I won’t lie, I hated being alone. Because I am the type of person who ruminates over things. So every time I was alone I would overthink things, creating problems that aren’t really there and before I know it, I am on the bathroom floor crying my lungs out. And I knew I had to work through this. Because for eighteen years of my life, I had been a loner, a quiet, behind the scenes introvert. It wasn’t fair that I was letting a couple of hurts get to me and change me, and completely alter my usual headspace. I knew I liked being alone, I just needed to find a way not feel lonely.

And so I tried and experimented on so many things. At first it was spoken word videos on the internet, then writing a blog post daily. These were good, because I picked up on writing, which is the only thing on this planet I can confidently say I am passionate about. But when you were in the state I was in, a hobby wasn’t going to cut it, I needed an addiction. I needed something so intensely distracting, it would keep me from thinking entirely. And so gradually I watched myself do something I swore I would never do; self-medicate with alcohol. At first it was fun. It was fun being tipsy and light headed and not caring about the next moment. Problem is, I am student with responsibilities. I had to be sober for most of the week. And when I am sober, I am going to think about the things I do not want to think about, the things that made me drink, and how bad a decision that was and I am going to beat myself up about it till the next time I can drink. So in a nutshell, I wasn’t getting better. I was just getting myself more miserable. So anyway, I kept going like this for a while, until one night I sort of overindulged. And when I say sort of, I mean I had a nasty hangover for two days straight. It was the worst two days of my life.

But these two days got me thinking. What was I doing with my life? I mean, my life didn’t suck so bad, so why was I self-destructing? I mean, here I was, throwing up every hour, struggling to hold my hair, fighting this overwhelming urge to cry, for god knows what reason, by myself. Where was everyone I had been drinking with the previous night? I was by myself. And that was a revolution of sorts. I realized that I have to be my own best friend, my most fanatic fan. I had to learn to love my own company. Because at the end of the day, it’s just me. And I later came to realize the best way to fall in love with yourself is to spend time with yourself. So yeah, this embarrassingly personal story is my way of saying that solitude is the greatest gift you could give yourself. Learn who you are without someone else. Learn to feel whole by yourself. Learn to love yourself. Because that is the only way you can get to have a meaningful relationship with someone else. Because when you understand that you are a complete being, and you do not need someone else to validate or love you, that you are all you ever need, you view people differently. You know that loving someone else is just sharing who you are with them and that you do not have to accept mediocrity, or half-baked intentions in the name of love.

So while I still over-think things, I have learnt to live with my thoughts. Hell I even spare time to think. To get in touch with myself. Because I realize the only journey that truly matters, is the journey back to myself. And while our purpose on earth as humans might be to make a difference, change a life, save a soul, sometimes it is okay to only save your soul.

If I should have a daughter

If you are ever at a party, smoking cigarettes on a rooftop with some girl with extremely rugged jeans and green hair, ask her how her day was. I promise you won’t regret it. Because unconventional people have the most exciting stories to tell.

If you are ever hanging out with your closest guy friend, just the two of you, and he turns around and kisses you, kiss him back. Yeah, it might make your friendship weird, but you can always work on your friendship. Or you could always make new friends. Regret on the other hand is difficult to work through. Because one day, you’ll be alone in your bed at two in the morning and you wouldn’t be able to stop yourself from wondering how he would have tasted like.

If you are ever at a party taking shots, playing truth or dare and they dare you to make out with some girl. It is okay to say no if you do not feel drunk enough and you know you will remember it the next morning and feel like throwing up. Who cares if they call you uptight and not fun. Those are your lips after all, no?

If you ever like a guy who doesn’t like you back, don’t pretend it doesn’t hurt. Cry yourself to sleep if you must. Hell, cry for weeks if you want to. Write cheesy poems. Listen to sad music. Just know that eventually, you have to put it behind you and trust me, a lot of times, the easiest way to do it is to go on that coffee date with that other guy.

If you ever break up with your first love. Baby, that is going to sting for years on end. Because yeah, a woman never really forgets her first love. You just have to do whatever it takes to heal. Do not date anyone for a while if you do not want to. Move towns if you have to. Write him angry letters. Burn those angry letters. Cry until you throw up. Drink until you pass out. Let yourself grieve. Let yourself heal.

If life ever brings you disappointment after disappointment, heartbreak after heartbreak, as it will. If it is ever too much for you to bear, so much so, you feel like you are drowning in tears, losing your will to live. Here is what you do; you take a break, and you go figure things out. You go find yourself. Travel the world, go for walks at one in the morning, watch the sunset, listen to crickets. Come home.

If you ever forget who you are. Or if you ever feel the pressure to be someone else, spend a few days alone. Remind yourself who you are. And whoever that is, just remember you are the very definition of perfection. And that is enough. Take it from me, one of the most painful things in life is losing yourself. Trust me kiddo, you do not want to go down that road.

If you ever find yourself over-thinking things like why that guy you met on the bus and asked for your number hasn’t called you, or why he didn’t ask you on a second date, or why he just stopped talking to you. Just remember that not everyone you meet in your life is meant to stay. Some are meant to make that bus ride less boring, or for late night conversations that night you had an argument with your mum and your best friend is offline.

If you are ever eating your favorite snack and your friend asks for some, give it to them. Yeah, it is things like these that will give you mini heart attacks and put you in so much pain. But someday, you are going to look back and treasure those moments. And if that doesn’t happen, you could always take pride in your alleged generosity and selflessness.

If you are ever feeling alone, or sad or sacred, you call me. And I will send you a couple of Drake’s albums. And when you get them, you first listen to ‘Shot For Me’ in ‘Take Care. ’ Because that is my favorite song and that will be my way of telling you that I know what you are going through because I have been where you are. You just have to wait it out, you’ll be okay.