Since I have your attention, here is a LinkTree of Black Lives Matter information, places to donate and resources, here is a link where Canadians can take action toward defunding the police in their city and here is a list of petitions you can sign to demand Justice for Breonna Taylor.
I lived by myself in a bachelor apartment for almost three years. For two of those years, I was single. For a year an a half of those years, I worked from home. At the time, when I would stay home without any intentions of seeing anyone I called it relaxing alone time or a weekend to myself, but then the pandemic gave it a name: self-isolation.
Here was a typical weekend in my life when I lived alone:
FRIDAY NIGHT – Arrive home from work to an empty apartment. Take off bra. Cook dinner and eat it in front of the glow of my computer. Abandon my intentions of going to bed early because I’m talking to someone half interesting on a dating app. Make my horizontal arrangement look cute for the gram and upload a story. Consider meditating and deflect that idea immediately because it involves silence. Instead end up eating popcorn straight out of the bag then masturbating to put myself into a coma.
SATURDAY MORNING – Wake up and regret not sleeping with my retainer in. Go to a workout class (wow! some social interaction?) and grab brunch with some friends after. Crawl into bed will a full belly as soon as I get home and watch Netflix or nap. Consider stretching or showering.
SATURDAY NIGHT – Wake up from two hour accidental nap OR rouse myself after two hours of scrolling on Instagram. Avoid making plans if I don’t already have plans. Pick up Indian food dressed like a coked out Lindsay Lohan from the restaurant around the corner. Binge eat so much goddam butter chicken. Maybe cry. Watch a documentary and cry some more. Text my best friend Sarah to see what she’s up to. Delete dating app after seeing and almost accidentally swiping on someone I know. Throw phone across room and fall asleep with the lights on.
SUNDAY MORNING – Go for a run or walk to get a coffee. Do some productive shit like groceries or laundry.
SUNDAY NIGHT – Make an excuse why I can’t go for dinner at my parents house (don’t lie we’ve all done this). Subtweet about a boy I feel salty about. Watch 25 YouTube videos about productive morning routines to make myself feel productive. Fall into Sunday depression and question all my life decisions and wonder why I’m such a loser. Do a face mask because skin care is the only thing I can do right in that moment. Deal with the mountain of dirty dishes that I’ve left in my sink. #sundayscaries
Based on what you read above I think I have an idea of what that was like for people who had to lock themselves away all on their own. It didn’t take a virus to make me keep people at a distance – it was feelings of unworthiness and ideas about what self-reliance was supposed to look like that made me stay away.
The neuroscience researcher John Cacioppo of the University of Chicago has been studying loneliness for over 20 years. He defines loneliness as perceived social isolation. We experience loneliness when we feel disconnected. Maybe we’ve been pushed to the outside of a group that we value, or maybe we’re lacking a sense of true belonging. At the heart of loneliness is the absence of meaningful social interaction—an intimate relationship, friendships, family gatherings, or even community or work group connections.BRENE BROWN
The funny thing is, the more time I spent alone when I lived alone, the less I felt like I belonged in my social groups, and the more I thought I should be alone. It was a fucked up cycle, and I often turned to Instagram and dating apps instead of showing any sort of vulnerability and turning to my friends and family for connection. Talk about the path of least resistance.
Hindsight is honest, and I didn’t realize the extent of how this habit was impacting my emotional wellbeing until I ended up locked down during the height pandemic in a hostel with 10 other people in the middle of Queensland, Australia. We got to know each other, lived together, grocery shopped together, worked in an apple packing shed, ate together and basically spent every waking moment together. I opened up to them and showed up even when I felt unworthy (where’s my medal?) and allowed myself to feel loved and accepted. I recognized that the way I was spending my time before wasn’t relaxing or restorative.
I thought I would be going nuts being around other people so much, turns out that being alone and scrolling as much as I was before was making me a little nuts.
Obviously I still adore pockets of time to myself here and there, especially when I need to check in on if I’m living my values, but this experience of living with other people also made me realize how much what I was doing before wasn’t working. Turns out, the story I had always told myself about what independence was supposed to look like was basically just forced social starvation which ain’t it. I know that now.
There’s a reason Carrie Bradshaw hardly ever ate dinner in her apartment by herself and there are so many sitcoms based around groups of room mates.
We’re not meant to go without authentic connection. It makes us human.