There are a few major things that incite high levels of excitement during office discussions. General gossip (did you hear that Susan from HR is sleeping with Stephen from IT?) Pre-date planning. Post-date debriefs over coffee the next morning. What's everyone having for lunch? FRIDAY's. And of course, what are your plans tonight? The answer that never fails to bring the widest smile to the conversation surprisingly isn't bragging about going to a cool new pop-up thing, or an arty exhibition, nor drinks with a hot guy from Happn. It's going home and doing absolutely nothing, absolutely alone. Drake was really onto something when spit the lyric sweatpants, hair tied, chilling with no makeup on.
But there's still so much stigma stuck on going solo. Last Saturday a phone call with my Mum went a little something like this
Mum: "What are you up to today?"
Me: "Going to the V&A"
Mum: "Lovely! Who with?"
Me: "Oh, just me"
Mum: "Aw! Don't you have anyone to go with you?"
Me: "Are you familiar with the song Independent Women by Destiny's Child?"
Of course there probably was someone out there who would want to check out a museum with me, but the truth was, I didn't really want to go with anyone. Who wants someone interrupting your cultural vibe whilst you're analysing the distinctive features of Renaissance art (aka, snapchatting some weird medieval artefact that looks like a quasi-ancient dildo)? There's this totally wrong misconception that being a lone female makes you quite sad and pathetic, as if you're pining for company. But me-time isn't about sitting alone in your flat, weeping into a glass full of chardonnay whilst your cat avoids any affectionate advances. To sum it up in lyrics once more, this is no Bridget Jones. (The Wombats, if you were wondering...)
Being alone means you can listen to Taylor Swift on loud. And sing along to it even louder. Why not dance along to it too? Wear pyjamas that are socially unacceptable. Wear nothing at all. Put on a tiara! Get the facial hair removing cream out. Sleep on the left or right hand side of the bed. Sleep in the middle of the bed! I think of my friends that live with their boyfriends and I'm all at once baffled, bemused and impressed at their tolerance to having another human being living and breathing in their personal space 99% of the time. I mean, that's true love, right? But as for me, there's nothing more that I love than coming home to an empty, clean bed with a new netflix series to start bingeing on. Idalia Candelas, an illustrator from Mexico, captured this perfectly in her Postmodern Loneliness series; a collection of images depicting women doing chill things - like stretching out in bed, reading on a kindle, doing the dishes topless - all completely solo.
When the world is as fast paced and demanding as this, is it really surprising that we're all desperate to spend a little time on ourselves, to unwind and switch off? Life is turning into a never-ending conveyor belt going at hyperspeed where you wake up at 6, go to the gym, commute to work for an hour, work your 9-5, commute home for an hour, do some laundry, have a shower, make dinner and lunch for tomorrow. Go to bed. Repeat x 5, occasionally swapping out the life admin for mates, dates, and parties. At the weekend you get two days to knuckle down on admin (and blog work, if you're that way inclined) seeing mates / more dates / visiting family - delete as appropriate. So when I eventually get time out I just kind of lie there, drooling at the laptop screen watching some documentary on god knows what because I'm so mentally exhausted my brain has decided to stop functioning at a level higher than that of an 8 month old baby. Arrangements and engagements are relegated from being fun and frivolous to the same level as say, I don't know, unloading the dishwasher, or going for a wax, and life turns into one whole giant social obligation. The best plans are cancelled plans, and Netflix and chill takes on a way more literal meaning.
Back when I was 19, I drunkenly wailed via text to one of my old boyfriends about how I so desperately wanted to make it in fashion and be really fabulous and successful. His response? I have no doubt that you will, but you'll be absolutely painfully alone as a result of it. Woah, burn. Perhaps it was because he lived in a small town and could sense our worlds drifting apart. Perhaps he was jealous. Or perhaps he was just a bit of a dick? Either way, five years later and he got one thing right - and it's not the hugely successful in fashion thing (I'm still waiting for my appointment of editor at Elle) The truth is, I am alone, by definition of being alone. But I absolutely love it. Whether it's a simple timeout session done solo or checking out the latest exhibition at the Tate by yourself, there's something totally liberating about being completely happy in your own company. Brb, just going to put my dinosaur onesie on and learn the dance moves to Shake It Off.