My senior year of college, I took a very directed, hyper-conscious look inward. I had just left Southwest to go back to school, an experience that left me feeling more impassioned, self-sufficient, and capable than just about any other I can recall in recent memory.
I’ve written about this a few times now, so I’ll spare you the details, but you know the highpoints: overcame my fear of flying and replaced it with a love of travel, discovered yoga (and my triceps), committed whole-heartedly to pursuing a meaningful career at Southwest. You know, some real “eat pray love” sh*t.
But that was the first time I can remember caring more about my own interests—my own life and sense of self—than someone else. Whether that be a friend or love interest, I always looked for fulfillment in other people (and sometimes, when I lose sight of my own path, I still do).
Let’s fast-forward to this week.
A few major developments came down the pipeline for me in the past few days, not the least of which was an unexpected conversation.
I had the chance to catch up with someone I hadn’t seen in a little bit—a friend who, by all interpretations of the word, is fiercely independent. I had always admired that about him, and I told him that.
We started talking about dependency and clinginess; how people learn dependency early in life. His theory was that it starts in your family life—relying on your parents or your extended families for happiness (that’s a point where we diverged; I don’t think there’s anything wrong with finding happiness in your parents since they can’t really dump you).
But I can’t stop replaying one key piece of the conversation over and over again, and I’ll do my best to not completely misappropriate his sentiments: “I think there’s a direct correlation between people who are dependent in relationships and people who don’t have any hobbies.”
What are your hobbies?
I love to do yoga. I love to run and go for walks. I love to read, write, read some more, and feel inspired by whatever the hell it is that's written on the page in front of me (whether I wrote it or someone else). I love to organize and clean, and I love to make spreadsheets to categorize every minute detail of my life (#OPTIMIZATION). I love to listen to podcasts and watch Netflix documentaries and standup comedy specials.
When you have to fill out those annoying icebreaker questionnaires at new jobs and school orientations, do you stare at the blank line debating whether or not “Chick-Fil-A” is a hobby?
I remember, for the longest time, I used to write, “Hanging out with friends” as my primary hobby. I hate to break it to you (me), but that ain’t no hobby.
A hobby, we decided, was something you could do completely on your own. Something that required nobody else and provided you with a sense of happiness and fulfillment. What comes to mind for you?
He mentioned friends who would get homesick and said he never wanted to be the person who needed other people to be content—that he wanted to “be his own home.”
While that sounds a little lone wolf-y, I think that’s an incredibly wise goal.
Hobbies are a safe investment of your time and energy because their satisfaction isn’t contingent upon someone else’s behavior—and I think we all know that, a lot of times, we let other people control our moods.
It’s funny, though, because I see it so much more in young women than young men.
I’ll give you an example. The other night, I went to dinner with three of my girl friends. At one point, I realized I was telling a story and all three of them were staring at their phones texting. I was literally talking to nobody, because all of them were half-listening. Do you know why they were half-listening? Because they were texting or Snapchatting their significant others.
(And for the record, so I don’t look like I’m sub-blogging passive aggressively, I later joked about this with one of them, and she agreed that it’s an issue. She also noted that she knows when her boyfriend is hanging out with his friends or busy doing something, he doesn’t text her back at all.)
But you know what? I’m just as guilty of it.
I’ve been paying more attention recently to the amount of time I spend doing things by myself, for myself. I think most of my senior year was spent with a similar goal, but moving cities can be a bit jarring and I think I lost focus a little bit in the midst of work, finding an apartment, and trying to build a solid network of friends.
And, if we’re being honest, I think I felt myself make so much progress that I became complacent (almost like a “mission accomplished, don’t have to work at that anymore!” feeling).
But I think we all have to work at it. We all have to work at finding things we love to do that make us love ourselves enough to let go of bad situations in favor of better ones.
If you can’t spend a Saturday alone entertaining yourself without pulling your hair out, it might be time to reconsider how you spend your free time and if you’re investing in anything beyond work and going out (unless going out is your hobby, in which case, I pray for your wallet and liver).
I hope I don’t sound preachy; I certainly don't mean to. It’s just something that’s been on my mind a lot now that I’m around my girl friends more and spend 40 hours a week at work with more limited downtime. It’s not always easy for some of us extroverts to love being alone and spend time doing things where the only tangible ROI is personal satisfaction (maybe that’s why we document everything we do via Snapchat Stories and Tweets?).
I will say, however, that even if it is a little uncomfortable at first, learning how to enjoy being alone usually results in a strange clarity in your other relationships—you hold higher standards for the people you invest time in, because you know your time could be more valuably spent elsewhere (like Chick-Fil-A).
My first goal when I moved to Dallas was to do something with someone every single day. To plunge headfirst into my new social life and establish as many meaningful friendships as possible.
I think my new goal is to do something every single day for myself, by myself, with myself. Me, myself, and I. KG cubed.
Be your own home.
I'm probably just as confused as you are: my thoughts on love and relationships.
The fine print: