As published in Express and Echo
I’ve decided to take myself away on holiday, on my own.
Not for the first time, I appear to divided opinion. Half of the people I’ve told think it’s brilliant, the other half are confused by it, and aren’t afraid to say so.
“Don’t you have anyone who would go with you?”.
“Won’t you be lonely?”.
“Why would you do that?”.
None of my short answers seem to suffice, and although this doesn’t trouble me at all, I’m going to explain now, because for me, it’s absolutely the best thing I can imagine doing for my health.
As much as I love doing things with other people, as much as I enjoy spending time with those that make me laugh and inspire me, and as much as I love a good party with friends, as I have gotten older, I’ve realised that the time I spend alone is the most valuable.
Over that last year, parts of which were pretty stressful, I’ve done a lot of soul-searching, and it has only been through going within that I have found the peace I’ve been looking for.
We think a better house, a better body, a better car will make us happier, but happiness and fulfilment is an inside job.
It comes from being alone and really understanding who we are and what makes us tick.
It was going solo that taught me who I wanted to be, what made me come alive, and where I needed to put my focus in order to stay well. I learned how to control my own thoughts, feelings and emotions again, without anyone else questioning them, or making me doubt my own judgement.
I found me again, and in that process, I got my life back.
All it needed was space and time – the magic always happens in the space – and now, this week, I’m taking even more space.
A whole week, just me.
Unlike some other times that I have taken space, this time I’m not running away. It was a conscious decision I made some weeks ago when I knew I was due a holiday, even though everything is going well at home.
But the truth is, I don’t just need the space, I want it. I crave it, the opportunity to get off the treadmill, to just be me, to reaffirm who I am, to reflect on where I am in life, and where I want to go next.
It may seem selfish, and I know that I’m lucky that the only real responsibilities I have are my cat and my business, but I know that by taking this time for me, it’ll do good elsewhere. I’ll be better for those around me, for my students as well as friends and loved ones, and my business also will benefit from a fresh injection of energy.
As I learn to please myself again, not succumbing to the old habit of always putting others first and people-pleasing wherever I go, I find everything around me starts to flow again.
I find myself in scenarios that seem magical as well as effortless, there’s just no conflict, as I’m directed by an innate wisdom I think we all possess that tells us what’s right for us.
I find I’m making good decisions, and getting more favourable outcomes, and I find the inevitable criticism just washes over me, like water off a duck’s back.
My holiday is everything I want it to be. I have chosen it this way, and in every moment I can decide what I most want to do. There is such a sense of liberation in that. I know I’ll always need this time, although I also appreciate that shared moments of happiness are equally valuable.
It’s just that I think there’s a balance, as with everything in life. We need equal regard for ourselves as we have for others. So from time to time, we may need to redress the balance, whichever way that is.
I’m mindful that as summer approaches I’m going to be busy with people, both for work and for pleasure. So I know that time alone will help me cope with the social aspect. It’s my form of spring cleaning. I need to create some space in my head, rest my body and mind, and refresh myself for the season ahead.
I find a quote by someone called Bianca Sparacino. I’ve no idea who she is, but she seems like someone I’d like to spend time with when I’m not alone, and she captures my reasons for flying solo perfectly. I should have just posted it on my Facebook page and saved all the explanations!
“Being Alone: Eat alone, take yourself on dates, sleep alone. In the midst of this, you will learn about yourself. You will grow, you will figure out what inspires you, you will create your own dreams, your own beliefs, your own stunning clarity, and when you do meet the person who makes your cells dance, you will be sure of it, because you are sure of yourself”.
And on that note, I’m off to enjoy my holiday!