Take it from an only child: there’s nothing to fear about solitude!
My childhood was composed of infinite hours of reading, drawing, playing with Barbies, and happily entertaining myself. This is not to say that I didn’t enjoy many play dates, sleepovers, birthday parties and other outings with friends, because I did. I experienced the blissful blend of someone who was comfortable being alone and entertaining myself along with being a person who could be social and enjoy the company of others. I learned to strike this balance from a young age because I was raised as an only child.
I have always been comfortable with quiet and solitude. I have always been able to find ways to entertain myself without a need for other people. I like other people and enjoy spending time together, but I don’t have to have another person around at all times.
There are aspects of growing up an only child that I regret, such as the fact that I have no siblings and will never have nieces or nephews of my own. I recognize that I am socially awkward, at times, which I think is a result of me not always having others around to talk to, argue with, and share with. It is for these reasons that I was determined to have at least two children of my own.
Among the most useful attributes of being an only child, that I appreciate yet today, is the fact that I am effortlessly independent, a trait which served me well while recovering from divorce.
Take it from me, an only child, this is how to combat solitude and embrace independence as a divorced person:
Enjoy the silence.
We need not think of silence as deafening so much as tranquil. There is opportunity for clarity, reflection, and brainstorming in solitude. I have had some of my best moments of clarity while working in my garden, going for a walk, or throwing myself into other solo activities. Alone time does not need to be in quiet unless we want it to be. Every activity you do can be accompanied by favorite music or the comforting hum of the TV for background noise.
Own your own time.
In a relationship, we usually compromise how we want to spend our time. Sometimes we get to do what we want, and other times we’re just along for the ride. The beauty of flying solo is that we can choose to do whatever we want every time! The final decision about what to eat, watch, and where to go will always be ours!
So, not only should you revel in being in command of your own destiny, but also take advantage of doing things you’ve wished to do more or trying new things. No longer will you have to “put up with” doing what someone else wants you to do, and you can take your time doing exactly what you like!
Abandon your comfort zone.
Who says that you can only have fun or go places with a partner in tow? There’s plenty that can be done solo and being alone is not an indicator of being a misfit. Don’t let the fact you may not have an available companion prevent you from going places and doing things you want to do! The world deserves your presence, and there’s no farmer’s market, restaurant, theater, museum, or mall that won’t welcome you!
Sometimes we must get over our own hang-ups about perceived typical societal expectations to be partnered up like animals from Noah’s Ark wherever we go. Not every experience is made better with a sidekick, and it’s not as though everyone else is part of a duo. If there’s something you want to do, do it!
Have many tricks up your sleeve.
As an only child, I was very in tune to my moods, preferences, and had a well-developed array of options with which to entertain myself. The necessity of my circumstances prompted me to do this because it was a treat, rather than typical for me to have peer interaction. You’re probably in tune with many activities that you enjoy; but, it may be time to work on developing a list of activities that are ready to go when you feel emptiness or boredom creeping in.
Reading, exercise, creative hobbies, or even a side hustle are worthwhile ways to pass the time. Who doesn’t have a closet or junk drawer that could benefit from a good tidying up or some paperwork to be organized? On a larger scale, it could be interesting to take a class, travel, take in cultural events, or tackle a big project like writing a blog or re-decorating a room.
Solitude may be unfamiliar territory, but it is not something to be afraid of. Especially following a divorce, time alone is an effective way to reconnect with ourselves and give attention to the most important and long-term relationship of a lifetime: yourself! As an only child, I invite you to embrace solitude rather than avoid it! There are beauty and an intense intimacy in being alone.
Just because we are alone does not mean we are lonely!