Have you ever been alone before and it made you really anxious?
A little over a year ago, I would have absolutely freaked out if I did not have plans at night…or any time for that matter. I was socially addicted. I lived for the high of people…for the high of the social.
It fueled me. It made me extremely happy. It controlled my day.
Part of this perhaps came from my extroverted personality while the other came from my own attempt to be filled by people and social events.
This became really evident for me when I started college in 2015. I couldn’t be alone. If I was, I felt absolute dread and anxiety. I couldn’t bear it.
I had to do something. This lead to impulsive exercising and other damaging behaviors.
But now, thanks to Jesus’s redeeming love and mercy, I am sitting in my apartment as I type this, by myself on a Thursday night, listening to Spotify, about to start my newest, favorite Netflix show: Parenthood, and probably going to paint my nails.
Do I feel anxious? Slightly, yes. I recognize the feeling, but I don’t act on it. I have not exercised or restricted myself from food because that does nothing.
Rather, this is what my day looked like. It was a long day filled with a super challenging test (brain turned to mush after that) and then a three-hour class soon after. I had plans with a friend later tonight but those fell through. I was okay with it though because I recognized that I was exhausted, my brain still not recovered from the day.
I just felt like relaxing. I was okay with having no plans (something that would have sent me into a panic attack before). Instead of spending my night in panic and negativity, I choose to spend it in a way that is positive.
This looks like treating myself to takeout for dinner because I don’t feel like cooking. It looks like honoring my cravings and eating what sounds good. It looks like eating until I am full, satisfied—not restricting myself in an attempt to feel better about myself. There is no need for that. Who I am is not found in what I eat, what I do, or when I exercise.
Tonight, I called someone I love (hi, mom!), enjoyed my dinner, wrote this blog post, and am planning on watching some netflix and painting my nails while I enjoy my favorite night snacks.
Being an extrovert + being alone is hard (I think it’s hard for everyone for that matter, but I think extroverts maybe have a different reaction to it), but it’s taught me a lot. I have to sit in the uncomfortable feelings and be okay with it. I have to realize that I cannot always manipulate the situation but rather I can choose how to react to it.
When I was entering recovery for anorexia, I recognized that this extreme fear of being alone was not healthy. If I was not with someone, then it said something about me. I needed to prove something. I needed to do something.
I remember sitting in my therapist’s room, talking about this idea. I told her that I could never be alone.
“I just can’t do it.” I told her. “I mean, what do I even do?”
She told me, “Find something you enjoy doing. What is something that you would like to do?”
“I don’t know.” I honestly said. Anorexia had taken that from me. I didn’t know what else I enjoyed doing.
Over time, I slowly but surely sat in that feeling. Slowly but surely, my Savior, in His deep love, opened my eyes, my heart, and my mind. He redeemed me and showed me the parts of me that I had forgotten. But He hadn’t forgotten. He knew. He knew from the moment He created me. He knew He would redeem this. In His perfect love.
There is hope. Whether it’s people, drugs, food, social stuff, alcohol, grades, partying, studying…whatever it is that fills you…there’s something MORE. Something so much greater.