Don’t let the title of this fool you. I’m not here to teach you how to reheat the second half of last night’s to-go sammy. I’m here to merely acknowledge and point out that it is an art. You have to take the lettuce and tomato off (honestly, you should replace the soggy lettuce with fresh), other components typically have to be reheated for different times in the oven (and/or on a skillet if you’re being really diligent about it), the bread has to be re-toasted, and you may need to add some additional sauce that you have in your fridge to atone for any flavor lost in overnight absorption. Now, you might be thinking, Who has time to do that? Just nuke it in the microwave. But no, I will absolutely not “just nuke it in the microwave.” There are very few things I find joy in nowadays, and let me tell you, consuming good food makes up most of that list. And I will go to great lengths to make sure I’m not denying myself of that one small pleasure.
You see, this is something you may have never thought about as extensively as I have. Consider yourself lucky. As someone who has years of experience cooking for one and admittedly ordering out way more than I should, this is something I’ve not only considered, but over time, perfected the craft of. Since we got into it, let me tell you, the dining experience is just as exciting, if not more so. The setting varies depending on the time of day. If last night’s dinner turned into today’s breakfast, I’m likely taking large bites over the kitchen sink as it catches (re)toasted bread crumb debris. If this was a lunchtime reheat (LTR for short), it’s much the same, but replace the kitchen sink with my MacBook Pro. Dinner? Easy. I’m having a Bed Picnic, which is just my way of making eating alone in bed at 7 p.m. sound quirky and adorable, when in reality, it’s neither of those things. But that , that’s what I’m here to talk about: being alone. And the phenomenon is that if you feel alone (and trust me — I feel alone all the time, in every sense of the word, on a deep-rooted level), and you may actually BE by yourself; physically, mentally and/or emotionally, the phenomenon is that you’re not alone in that feeling. We all feel it to some extent at one point or another. Some of us may feel it more frequently or more intensely, but we all have at least felt it in our human experience. I’m not here to pretend that my experience is unique or singular in any way, but I do believe the more people that talk about it, the less alone we will all feel, collectively as humans, in the feeling of feeling alone.
While we’re relating to each other, let’s talk about things that really fucking annoy us. Like how infuriating is it when people say “live for yourself” or “do you” or “take yourself on a date”? Because that, my friends, is not helpful. And if you’re the one comforting a friend who’s feeling down by saying those things, maybe consider… not. Now, don’t get me wrong, I understand the intent behind those things is sweet and good. But here’s the thing: I’ve done everything there is to possibly do by myself. Maybe you have, too. And for the record, if you have, I’m really proud of you. For me, I’ve done it all. You name it: concerts, restaurants, bars, trips, festivals, museums, movie theaters (which I think we can all agree are definitely better alone than with anyone, because you get both armrests, you don’t have to sit in an awkward silence in close proximity to someone you know, and you don’t have to share your popcorn when they inevitably don’t order any because they “don’t want it” but suddenly decide they do “want some but just a little bit” 20 minutes into the movie). So listen, I’ve been doing me, and I have no problem taking myself out to the things I enjoy. Being alone has never stopped me from doing anything I’ve wanted to do. But here’s the truth: Even if you’re the most independent person to walk the earth (which you’re not, because I clearly have already achieved that title), it gets really fucking old really fucking fast. Maybe it’s the sheer painful current that courses through your whole body when you’re in the crowd of a concert by yourself and you hear a particular lyric that makes you long to be held like the many people you’re observing around you in the same crowd. Maybe it’s the time you have with your thoughts on the train on your commute to work and the hollow feeling that always seems to linger along with them, making your eyes well up with tears, so much so that you have to pretend to yawn so no one approaches you and asks why you’re crying on the train even though, who am I kidding, no one is paying attention anyway, which just makes you feel even more alone. Maybe it’s a Sunday morning in bed—Sunday’s are the hardest to wake up alone IMO—wondering what to do with yourself that day, and instead of feeling the freedom of possibilities, you just feel… sad. We are hardwired for connection and companionship. So, this is a reminder (to myself and to you) not to judge yourself for wanting attention, love, and the company of someone to enjoy the same things you enjoy. Or company period. We all do.
My favorite annoying response is: Give yourself as much love and energy as you give to other people. Wow. Profound. In short, no. It doesn’t work like that. And in long, I love myself more than anyone else ever will. I know everything there is to know about me. I notice and admire all my quirks in the way I always fantasize about someone else noticing and admiring my neurotic intricacies. I’m easy on myself when I need to be and hard on myself when I need to be. I applaud my own personal growth and progress all the time. I buy myself nice things and treat my body right… most of the time. My self-reflection game is strong. Just so you understand that I’m not at all conceited, it’s worth saying I also hate myself more than anyone else will. Every mean thing there is to ever say about me, rest assured, I’ve already said it to myself. No one or no insult will ever top the amount of pure loathing I graciously shower myself with on a near-regular basis. But every loving thing there is to say about me, yeah, I’ve said that to myself, too. I’ve perfected several self-care routines — both mental (meditation truly saved me) and physical (if you want the fruit of my labor in the form of years of trial and absolute horrid error with my skin care routine, I will happily share). I could put all the love I have in the world (which is surprisingly a ton, considering how depressed I am) back into myself, and guess what? I’m still sad and lonely. I’ve come to find that there’s a specific void and need for human connection that you simply can’t achieve on your own. That’s probably why there are studies about nurturing mothers and babies and shit. But hey, I’m no scientist.
I will say, there’s a certain level of contentment that comes with dropping all expectations of other people and not carrying that burden with you. I wish I could find a less sad way to say this, but the truth is, you learn to do that when you’re continually disappointed. Here’s a hard pill I had to learn how to swallow, and maybe you learned how to swallow it, too, or maybe now is your time: Disappointment is dependent on how you perceived something, how you expected a certain outcome, and how reality did not align with what you had wished. It actually has nothing to do with the thing or person you’re disappointed in. Basically, you broke your own heart, hurt your own feelings, and are desperately looking for somewhere to place these somber, burdensome emotions. It’s unfair to everyone involved and leaves you feeling shitty. How to combat this? No expectations equals no disappointment. And I’m not going to lie to you, it’s sad; it really is. It often goes hand-in-hand with not believing what people say and not getting your hopes up. Maybe I’m being cynical, negative, jaded — sure — but once you’ve been disappointed enough, it’s the only way to survive, honestly. Or else your mental capacity will be completely consumed by thoughts of other people and the fantasy land that could’ve been, and you will absolutely crush under that hope. At least I did.
But back to connections. Human connection is at the core of everything I do creatively and professionally. I always strive to collaborate in any way my expertise allows, and I absolutely love bringing people together. It took me several years to realize these pursuits are an attempt to fill the void of my personal loneliness, longing for connection, and desire to find a space where I feel I belong and can truly thrive. And let me be clear: I have human connections — many of them, in fact. I have amazing friendships that I cherish more than anything. I have a network of creative like-minded individuals that support me and my projects. I have people I meaningfully connect with in passing. And while that’s all amazing — I genuinely mean that, it really is — there’s something major missing. And that something is stability.
If you’ve never been alone long enough for it to eat away at you, or alone at all for that matter, we need to talk. I’m so — I cannot stress this enough — grateful that I learned how to be alone. I learned how to enjoy hanging out with myself, and I learned when it becomes too much, and that’s an invaluable skill. I’ve always been rather self-reliant and independent, but I mean, I really learned how to be self-sufficient in every area of my life. This is coming from a girl who once, at the modest age of 25, got anxiety at the thought of going to the grocery store alone following seven years of back-to-back long-term relationships in which I was, to my own horror, the epitome of co-dependent. Which just speaks volumes to how getting wrapped up in a romantic relationship can affect you. Now? I don’t even know that girl. Now, if someone asked to go to the grocery with me, I’d probably be like, “What? Why? Fuck off, weirdo,” as I put my headphones in and retrieve my Trader Joe’s reusable bags from my closet ALONE.
Anyway, what I’m trying to say is: It’s so important to spend time with yourself and learn to love your own company, to really get to know your wants and needs, and connect with yourself on a deeper level behind closed doors. It’s a powerful thing, that you have the ability to know and love yourself more than anyone else can. Make sure you give yourself the time and space to meditate on your thoughts and process your emotions any way you need to. For me, it’s a lot of lying on my bedroom floor, listening to nostalgic emo songs on repeat and crying. Or just being really really stagnant in every sense of the word. There’s something so lovely about a comfortable silence. Or choosing to stay in and enjoy a night by yourself rather than going out, which is my weekend norm. I need me time in order to recharge, and I can’t imagine living without it. Or maybe this only applies to introverts. Who knows. But I’m telling you, it’s SO important to remember that your feelings are always valid, because you feel them, and that’s real. It has to be, right? Being aware of what makes me spiral has helped me get better at overcoming it. Oh, and if you take anything away from this, please please please try to forgive yourself for whatever it is you’re holding over your own head like a weird grudge. You’ve punished yourself enough, and that’s not what this alone time is for.
But let’s go back to the stability thing. While I have people in my life whom I deeply care about and I know they care about me, they aren’t there for me every day. And they don’t need to be; that’s not their role in my life, nor is it mine in theirs. But I desperately long for a life partner. A best friend. Someone to swap the mundane details of our days with. Fuck, someone to even just say, “Good morning. Have a good day. I love you.” And if you have that, I commend you. And if you don’t, would you maybe be interested in starting a club of sorts that consists of “good morning” and “good night” texts? And custom patches?
At the risk of sounding insanely dramatic, after a while, that lack of attention can destroy you. It’s hard enough to get out of bed without encouragement sometimes, let alone work your ass off for what you’re passionate about while feeling unsupported and unloved in a basic, day-to-day way. And if your passions are like mine, that hustle is often solo by nature. So, when you don’t have someone as a soundboard or someone to just be there for you, well, to put it lightly, it’s broken me down and cultivated itself in shower sits, shower cries, train cries, public cries — you get it , really having a breakdown and crying at any given time in any given place. I don’t mean for this to sound like a pity party. Unless… maybe it’s a pity rager. With all of us. That sounds nice!
No; I just want to normalize the need for stable attention, care, and love. I fought it and judged myself (entitlement, anyone?) for so long, and I lost every time, because no matter how I sliced it, I felt shitty. And then, what’s worse, I thought: Maybe I have abandonment issues. Maybe I have attachment issues. Maybe I’m too needy. Maybe I’m not good enough. Maybe no one likes me. Oh my god, no one likes me. It’s because I did xyz. It’s because I said that. It’s because I look like this. I’m sure you can see how my anxiety will inevitably spiral the self-blame out of control. So, I want to prevent you from doing that, too. And, I mean, okay, I probably actually do have abandonment issues, if we’re being fair. (Edit to my therapist: I know I have abandonment issues, okay?) We all have some issues. We all have needs as humans. And some of those needs ABSOLUTELY involve external support in some way, on some level. We’re all needy, and that shouldn’t have a negative connotation. I’m simply here to acknowledge (for me) and point out (to you) that that’s okay. And we should all remind ourselves and each other that we’re not alone, especially when we feel it the most.
But if anyone does want to start a club, I’m very down. And if you are looking for tips on how to reheat a sandwich, I’m your girl.