About two months ago I created a post called “Me, without you” – a kind of declaration of going back to myself after having ended an intense relationship. I’ve come a long way since then, I’m proud to say! I’m so happy, I love being on my own, and I still don’t feel the need to seek out relationships or attention from others. It’s truly liberating, so I thought I’d share the few things that I do to ‘find myself’:
#1: Go to a restaurant and have a meal by yourself
Bonus points if you stay off your phone. Bonus points if it’s dinner on a Friday night in a packed house. I just brought a book with me, but often I wouldn’t even get to reading it, I’d just try to pick a table by a window and look out of it, or just sit there and take in everything. The key is looking as if you’re confident, and saying “table for one, please” with conviction.
#2: Sleep in the middle of the bed
Take in all that space! I didn’t realise, but after my relationship ended I still slept on my side of the bed and kept to it. Once I positioned myself in the middle and spread out all my limbs, it made me feel like having all this space to myself was awesome and not depressing.
#3: Eat that piece of cake you want to eat
Also applies to fast food. The mentality of, “I want this, and it would make me happy, so I’m going to go out and get it” is powerful, even if it’s for chicken nuggets or tiramisu.
#4: Save up for some good quality beauty products
This might mean that lipstick you’ve been eyeing up at MAC, or a bath bomb at LUSH. For me, it was cocoa butter, nice soaps, and tea-tree deodorant. Smelling good was key to feeling good about myself.
#5: Find a bomb ass recipe and cook it
If you’re like me and you rely on stir fry packets, choosing a Jamie Oliver recipe and bringing it to life made me feel super accomplished and like I could take care of myself — AND it involves food, so, happiness all around.
#6: Immerse yourself in something that makes you feel alive
Okay, so it sounds corny and super general – but it works. The past few months I’ve been in the rehearsal process and season for the opera Carmen, I make it a point to go out there and look for new music, I watched the National Theatre’s live screening of Twelfth Night, and I’ve been writing, dancing (albeit badly, in my bedroom), and singing more than ever. It reminds me that there are things out there that are more beautiful, meaningful, and dramatic than whatever is in my life.
#7: Take a f**king break
When I feel super overwhelmed, instead of forcing myself to get things done or over-working myself, I 100% make sure I take a break. My mind and my body knows when I need a break. Even if it isn’t the wisest thing (read: deadlines are a thing that exist), my mental health comes first. And to be honest, I wouldn’t have written as good of an essay (even if it was handed in late) if I hadn’t taken a break and watched Dear John.
#8: Don’t feel bad if you still miss him.
You can do everything on this list and feel like you’re making progress, and then one day you come across someone who looks like him and you feel like you’re back to square one. You’re not, I promise. I used to count the days I would go without crying because of him, and when I broke the streak I’d feel terrible about it. But we’re human. And just because I miss him sometimes. it doesn’t negate all the work I’ve done to exist and be happy on my own. Now, I just take the grief as it comes. I accept it, let myself feel it (even if it means making a new sad playlist), move through it, and come out the other side and go on with my life. Don’t be obsessed with signs of progress like I was. Just focus on yourself and you’ll find that yes, you still miss him, but you can make yourself happy – and eventually you’ll miss him less and less, and that song that used to hit you hard doesn’t quite have the same effect anymore, and when you walk by the place he used to work, it makes you smile.