You need to be alone when you are not at home with yourself. When spending a night by yourself makes you want to tremble and take cover from the storm that rages on inside your mind, you need to learn to find your own shelter. When you want someone else to come and hold you close just to distract you from yourself, you need to learn to hold your own hand. We can love one another but nobody can save us from ourselves and when we don’t understand that in the slightest, we need to be alone the most.
You need to be alone when you’re unhappy with yourself. When your flaws and shortcomings are things you hope someone will someday love away, rather than inadequacies that you resolve to work on within yourself. When you’re hoping that someone is going to come along and save you from the mess that you’ve created, you need to learn to put yourself back together. You need to learn what you have to offer, not just what you have to take. You have to learn to be the person who saves you.
You need to be alone when you can’t look at another human being – not from across the subway or the table or the sheets that are bunched up between you – and not imagine what it’s going to feel like once it’s over. When every new beginning is just another reminder of each painful ending that preceded it, you are not ready to start over. The person you’re going to fall in love with deserves all your beginnings and none of your endings and if you’re still torn up about the past and it is bleeding straight into the future, it might mean that you need more time to heal. You need to be alone when you cannot arrive anywhere with your whole heart, because love requires every last piece of it.
You need to be alone when you want to be selfish. You cannot sacrifice and compromise yourself into a different version of yourself – one who wants less and accommodates more and is happy to make the sort of sacrifices that you abhor. You are who you are and if you cannot for the life of you focus on another human being because you’re thinking of the class or the job fair or the event you’d rather be at when you are lying in bed beside them, then you need to go out and do whatever it is that you would rather be doing. You’re more selfish for stringing along someone who thinks that you are willing to make sacrifices for them than you would be for calling a spade a spade and living your life unapologetically.
You need to be alone when things are changing. When your old world starts to suffocate and your new one begins to expand, it is so easy to want grab the closest hand you see and holler, “Look! Look at the world expanding!” Because everything is chaotic and wonderful and new, except it’s hard to frolic on forwards with your hand clasped inside somebody else’s and at some point you are going to want to break away into a run. And if you’re someone who needs to run alone, that’s okay. It’s good to want to explore the options that are available to you in as unconstrained a fashion as possible. It is okay to need to do that on your own.
You need to be alone when you are growing into a new version of yourself. When you are shedding the layers of who you’ve been like snakeskin, you will need the time to bury who you’ve been. We emerge into our new selves so carelessly – tripping over the edges and unfastened parts of who we have not quite figured out how to be. We need time to adjust to the shoes that we’re only slowly starting to step into. We need time to figure out who we will become.
You need to be alone when you’re not ready. When you meet someone who’s patient and kind and well meaning and yet some part of you is holding back. You have to know that it is no one else’s job to break down the walls that you’ve built up – that is a fortress of your own responsibility. When you are not ready to give someone your whole heart out of fear of what they’ll do with it, it is yourself that you must learn how to trust. It’s yourself you must come back to, piece by careful piece as you learn that your heart is an endless, refillable vessel that does not deplete and fall apart when it is given away. It is yourself that you must learn to be alone with.
You need to be alone whenever you know, in your heart of hearts, that you must be. When all the reason and feeling and logic in the entire world are stacked up against you and yet some part of you still wants to walk away. You need to be alone whenever some quiet, gentle part of yourself suggests that now is not the time. Here is not the place. They are not the person. You need to be alone whenever you are trying to fit a square peg into a round hole and it just won’t twist in to fit. You need to be alone when are lost. When you are found. When you are whole. When you are broken.
Someday you’ll understand that you can be all of those things alongside somebody else. But first and foremost, you need to learn to be them all alone.