Be Your Own Best Friend – Part 1

The joy of being alone.

Do you find it difficult doing things on your own?  Do you prefer to spend time with others because it gives you energy?  Would you rather stay home alone, than go out by yourself?  I think the answer varies depending on who you talk to.  I know that I’ve done a few things on my own and enjoyed it.  I remember going to see Out of Africa with Meryl Streep and Robert Redford, when they were showing old movies.  The quality of the picture wasn’t great, but sitting alone in that theater with Robert Redford felt like a very personal kind of pleasure – like a secret assignation.

I’m OK shopping alone, and going to a movie alone is a guilty pleasure.  But I once spent an entire week by myself, far away from all that was familiar to me.  It was an eye-opening experience.  I realized that if I got into trouble, or needed help with anything, I had to rely on the kindness of strangers.  And surprisingly, strangers were more than happy to help me navigate my way around my unfamiliar surroundings.  I’m more aware of my surroundings and the people in it, when I do things on my own.  And the act of buying a dish of ice cream takes on a whole new meaning.  It’s a small reminder that I am capable of making decisions on my own – that I don’t need anyone’s permission to buy ice cream – no-one will remind me that I don’t do dairy.  So, totally guilt free.

Julia Cameron’s new book It’s Never too Late to Begin Again takes the idea of spending time alone to a whole new level.  In fact, she advocates spending at least one hour a week doing something you enjoy by yourself; and once a month take the entire day doing the same.  As often is the case with Cameron’s books, she shows you how to fill the well of your creativity.  In this instance, she’s talking about connecting with our forgotten dreams and aspirations, as we navigate our way through retirement.

A marriage of equals.

A friend of mine recently told me a story about this woman who had been married two or three times, who decided that the next person she would marry would be herself.  What a great idea.  It’s wonderful to be in love, but maybe we need to love ourselves first, and then we are able to share that love with another.  Consider how we always put our best foot forward for that special someone:  In the way we look, act, and behave ourselves.  But when we’re alone, we let things go.  We eat poorly and maybe skip our exercise program.  We may even go to the movies alone in our oldest clothes and a pair of flip flops.   What does this say about how we feel about ourselves?  Why don’t we put our best foot forward for the most important person in our lives?  Don’t we deserve the same kind of respect we show to others?

There have been many times when I’ve wanted to go somewhere, or do something, but couldn’t get anyone to go with me.  Either they weren’t interested, or they were too busy.  So I didn’t go or do what was in my heart to do or see.  I have missed a lot of opportunities because I was afraid of being alone, or just plain afraid.  I got tired of missing out.  And who knows, maybe while I’m off on my own, I’ll meet someone else who longs for a travelling companion.  If not, that’s OK too.  If I can learn to enjoy my own company, it won’t really matter whether or not someone else comes along.

What a way to go.

In fact, I’m off to see Margaret Atwood speak at the Alice Munro Festival in Blyth (June 2, 2016 at this writing).  I will have to go alone and stay overnight, but at least I’m going.  I even booked a table for one at Bistro II rather than sit in my lonely room or go to the local café (which as it turns out, isn’t open after 5:00pm in June). All I know is, I wanted to hear Ms. Atwood read from her short stories, talk about writing, and other things, in the hopes that I will learn something helpful for my own writer’s journey.  I don’t know how it will turn out, but whatever happens, it will be a success because I cared enough about myself and my needs, to spend this time alone with by best friend — ME.

Categories: Memoir, Women's Lives

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