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.