Independence is Lonely

 No one tells you how lonely independence is. Growing up, we dream of independence. Driving on your own, going off to college, renting your first apartment and living on your own. You get to make your own decisions. You decide which cookies to buy at the grocery store, and no one is there to argue about who took the last juice box. There is something beautiful and mystical about growing up and finding independence; learning to fall in love with the life you want. 

But no one tells you how lonely it is to wake up to an empty house. No parents there to nag about doing the chores. No siblings to steal your clothes. The grass is greener on the other side, it’s true. We dream of growing up, but when we arrive at the independence of adulthood, we dream of going back. Suddenly the troubles of money and paying bills seems to cloud our once plausible dreams. While there’s beauty in being by yourself, there’s an air of sadness that creeps in too. 

There’s no crash course to finding happiness in independence. We can enjoy quality time with ourselves while also admitting we miss the people who make us happy. Sharing time with our favorite people, laughing, and conversing is what makes life worth living. 

So I wish I could say that living by yourself, being your own best friend, is easy. Over the years I’ve spent a lot of time by myself and it never gets easier. I’m grateful for the time I get to spend with myself. I can chew as loud as I want, laugh and cry, sing at the top of my lungs, and dance around my living room. I have wonderful memories with just me, myself, and I. But for every good memory, there are also nights spent crying- wishing for the easiness of childhood. Wishing to return to the comfort of my hometown. 

The same goes for relationships. There’s beauty in being single. You don’t have to deal with complicated situationships and text conversations that leave you teary eyed. But the beauty of independence doesn’t erase the loneliness it comes with. Being lonely while also loving your independence, doesn’t mean you are doing something wrong. 

In fact, feeling that pit at the bottom of your stomach that only subsides after tears means you are on the right path. The nights we spend aching for what once was reminds us of our strength. The strength to take another step forward even when the road looks lost. It makes us grateful for the time we do spend with our loved ones. And when eventually, you find someone you love more than anything else, you will realize your independence is a quality valuable even when surrounded by people. 

Our independence teaches us to carve our own path regardless if anyone follows. You will look back years from now and realize your fearless independence brought you the life you wanted. You didn’t depend on anyone to reach your dreams or create the life you want. You will stand on the mountain and look down at the life crafted with your own blood, sweat, and tears. The beauty about independence is that when you stand at the summit, only the best people will stand there with you. Being independent makes you picky about who you let in. You know you will be okay on your own. You will survive, despite the ache in your stomach, and the tears in your eyes. The feeling will eventually become a dull pang. 

Being independent isn’t easy. Stepping out of your childhood home takes courage. Leaving the comfort of your hometown is hard. These acts of independence can feel alienating. But I promise, eventually you will look back and feel grateful for your leap of faith. You will realize the nights you spent wishing back the comfort of the past has resulted in a brighter future. Like a baby bird pushed out of its nest, finding your footing will take time. But eventually, you will soar and you will reach new heights. You will still be lonely from time to time. You will still wish for the comfort of the known. 

Reaching your dreams, living the life you want won’t eliminate the feelings of loneliness. They never go away. But being lonely, feeling a pang of sadness from time to time, shouldn’t stop you from spreading your wings. Those uncomfortable feelings remind us we are on the road to the future we want. Finding independence, carving out your future, is lonely. You will feel like a lone traveler. But just know, when you get to where you’re going, you will be grateful for your courage. You will have swapped a few years of loneliness for a lifetime of unhappiness. 

Remember, “A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.” 

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