photo: Instagram/BlakeLawren

There are introverts and there are extroverts. I am undoubtedly an extrovert, and like most social butterflies, I've struggled with finding the balance between being out and about all the time and sitting still. But as I've grown into adulthood, I've become more aware that every personality trait we have is for a reason, every action we make is for a reason. So my constant need to be around people, and the desire to always be on the go, like everything else, had a reason. However, I would never allow myself any alone time to figure out what that reason was. 

That was until recently, when I discovered I couldn't run anymore. What I came to realize was powerful and unlocked a happiness I'd never known. Here's how finding comfort in solitude led to priceless happiness. 

Being alone doesn't mean being lonely.

However, I used to think that it did. I would run myself ragged trying to please everyone, trying to be everywhere. And somehow, as crazy as it sounds, that's how I found peace — at least that's what I thought. However, I never really would accept the way it would take a toll on me, not only mentally and emotionally but physically as well. I developed hemiplegic migraines at age 8, and for the life of me couldn't figure out what was bringing them on. For a while we thought maybe it was my menstrual cycle. However, realizing my migraines weren't coming during that time, that was debunked. We assumed that maybe it was lack of activity, so I amped up my workout schedule; still no luck. It wasn't until late into my teenage years and early into my 20s when I truly began to pay attention to patterns, realizing that the one constant throughout was stress, lack of sleep, and dehydration. 

That undying inability to be alone, to sit still, to be in solitude with my thoughts, was making me physically ill and had been for almost two decades. That was until I moved to New York City at 22. I didn't have many friends when I moved to the city. After college, most had opted for slower cities; but for me, no, chasing my dream of being in media, I moved to the Big Apple and into a studio apartment by myself — no boyfriend, and a work schedule that prohibited me from being as social as I would have liked. The quick shock of the change of pace sent me into a depression. I felt lost, being alone drove me nuts, and for a while I would try to consume ever moment of alone time with a FaceTime call, a phone call, or some kind of human interaction with anyone but myself (hence, how I became so close to the doormen in my building). But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't avoid those moments of complete solitude, sitting there deep in thought, reflecting.

It wasn't long until I realized that my fear of being alone was actually a fear of having to face my own sh*t. 

Pretty profound, huh? But it was true. My first boyfriend spanned from the ages of 15 to 19, integral years of personal growth when I was fully and completely invested in the happiness and well-being of someone else. Once that ended (badly, might I mention), I was constantly out and about. I couldn't sit still. I joined just about every organization on campus, could be spotted at every happy hour, and lived in an apartment with three other women. Don't get me wrong, I don't regret any of it. I did exactly what I wanted to do for years, made lifelong friends, and have some wildly drunken stories to tell my children one day. But there was still always a void. 

And to be honest, up until maybe six months ago, it was still very much there. I simply became tired, worn down, and forced myself to sit. I started thinking more, began having to face my flaws, began thinking about the life experiences that have made me who I am today. At first, it was terrifying, and it still is, but I began to call myself out on my crap. I listened to my friends' critiques, and instead of making adjustments on the surface level, I dug deep to the core. What I've come to learn about myself wasn't the prettiest, but it was necessary. 

It's still a work in progress, but I'm learning, and I've found a lot more happiness in being alone than being constantly around others. 

All of my days aren't unicorns and rainbows. As I continue to get to know myself, some days get ugly, I don't like my ways at times, but I'm learning how to forgive myself for my shortcomings, to work to fix it. I enjoy "me time," I prioritize it, and I use that time to cry, to laugh, to reflect, and to be my own therapist. What's crazy is that now alone time is something I crave. I've become more comfortable with saying no for my own sanity instead of someone else's, and the self-awareness I have is at an all-time-high. 

I won't lie, at times I still feel lonely. I'm single — super single — and my anxiety in this city often gets the best of me, but there's this sense of peace I feel now when I'm alone. I've become my own best friend, I enjoy dinner and movies by myself, and even more recently, I've learned how much I love road-tripping by myself.

The journey has been rough, but it's worth it, and I'm loving me, even in my ugliest states, more and more each day.