All my life I have been scared to live alone. The closest I’ve ever come to it is when I was living in a dorm in first year of university, and I was pretty miserable.
I’ve been scared to be isolated, scared to be the only one responsible for taking care of myself, scared that without someone else helping me along my life will fall into a stagnant rut.
I’m still scared, but what I’ve been doing is no longer working for me, so I decided that I had to change something, kind of like an experiment, and I decided to start with my living situation.
Tomorrow* I move out on my own, but tonight I’d like to take a moment to make a few promises to myself in hopes that this experiment will be a success.
I promise that…
- I will make an effort to reach out to all of my good friends at least once a week.
- I will not get overly discouraged if my efforts go unreturned.
- I will do something to try to meet new people once a week (and I will give myself permission to take as much time as I need to recharge afterwards)
- I will ask for help when I need it…
- But I will try to figure things out on my own and learn new skills whenever possible
- I will be mindful of what drives my passion and follow those things
- I will eat dinner every day, and cook at home as much as possible
- I will not let cleaning and laundry pile up
- I will stick to my brand new incredibly strict budget
- When I’m bored, I will focus on new hobbies, and old ones that I have neglected
- If I am going to meet a new person, or have someone new over, I will make sure someone else knows where I am and what I’m doing
- After one year, if I am not happy, I will start to look for a new place
- I will stay alive.
All of that is probably a tall order for someone like me. I can’t even manage to do half of those things now. Maybe it doesn’t seem like a very impressive list to most people, but most people don’t know what it feels like to be scared of yourself.
My trust in myself is tenuous at best. I have blind faith that things will work out, but no proof to back it up and no plan as to how to make that happen. I think I can do this, but I can’t really be sure until I try. And what if I’m wrong? People tell me I’ll figure things out fast if I don’t know how to do something but that’s not really the part I’m worried about.
When I say I might be wrong, what I mean is that I may not have the emotional strength to withstand potential social isolation. What if I don’t have the willpower to motivate myself to do not-so-fun tasks? Or anything at all, for that matter? What if one day something so awful happens that all these promises go out the window and I decide it’s best to just end it all, and no one is there to save me? That’s never happened before, but it COULD. I live with depression and social anxiety. That is a terrible combination for a situation like this. I have to accept that that is always a possibility in my life, however unlikely.
I have to have the strength to convince myself that I am worth interacting with, that I’m not just bothering my friends, that just because they aren’t focusing on me right now doesn’t mean they never will again, and that just because people are not good friends all the time doesn’t mean they aren’t worth it, all without anyone there to remind me. I have to convince myself that I cannot hold other people to the same standards to which I hold myself. I have to convince myself that it’s okay to make the first move and it’s okay to always be the one to text someone else first and it’s okay to always be the one making plans. I have to convince myself that it is okay if I am putting all of the work into a relationship and not getting much back, and that it’s worth it.
Do I actually believe that? Do I even want to believe that? Do I think that I can have any kind of self-worth if I believe that? I don’t know. But I do know that if I fail to convince myself of any of those things, I will sit in my cute little apartment all alone for weeks on end.
Hence, this list of promises. I may not be accountable to anyone else, but I am accountable to myself.
*As of publishing, I’ve already moved (and it’s going relatively well so far, in case you were wondering); I wrote this several days ago. I also found this article that is full of lessons I’ve actually already learned but really does encapsulate my experience right now. Particularly the harsh realization that men have always done everything for you…
So here I am in my new apartment in a big city,
They just dropped me off
It’s so much colder than I thought it would be
So I tuck myself in,
And turn my nightlight on
-“Never Grow Up”/Taylor Swift
Chelsea Ricchio is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of the SPEAK OUT blog. She is also the Communications Manager for Healthy Minds Canada. She graduated from the University of Toronto in 2015 with a BA in English Literature and Book & Media Studies. She was the former president of the student group Active Minds at UofT, which hosts SPEAK OUT events on campus (from which this blog takes its name). She was diagnosed with Dysthymia and Social Anxiety. She is 23 and lives in Toronto with her cat Genie.