Thriving in Solitude and Singledom

In the UK I can sit in the middle of a park alone, listening to chill music while reading a book. I can go for a hike alone on the small hill near my house. I can take a long walk by the beach alone. And nobody would bat an eye. I can do things alone without worrying that people will think I’m weird.

In Malaysia, I still think there’s a huge stigma against enjoying your own “me time”. When sitting at a cafe / restaurant alone there’s still that fear of being judged or pitied sometimes. Some people have major anxiety even walking on their university campus alone, for fear that they will seem weird or that they don’t have any friends. Solo travel is definitely not a huge thing for Malaysians – especially not within the country itself. I sincerely hope this will change.

For most of my early life, I’ve been super introverted. But my introversion clashed with my desire to express myself and say something meaningful to the world. Since entering university and pursuing media studies I’ve become less and less introverted. But after 7 months of COVID-19 I made it official – I now consider myself an ambivert. I actually look forward to meeting new people and exchanging thoughts with them, even through a Zoom call. Though of course still leaning slightly on the introvert side of the spectrum (realized this with how much social anxiety I got from joining Clubhouse initially… I am now more comfortable with it though, even hosted a room!). I know introverted people who, since the pandemic, have become even more introverted and happy to remain in the unhealthy bubble of letting their social skills decline. I can only wish them luck. As for extroverts, I hope they have learned to embrace quietness and tranquillity better during the pandemic, and that their mental health hasn’t suffered too badly.

As someone who used to be a very strong INFP (now less strong), I LOVED the idea of love. I’ve been a hopeless romantic since I was like, 7. But now I’m more of a realist, and I hate feeling powerless when I’m a slave to my feelings. Over the past few years I’ve realized being single is a great power non-single people don’t have. Taylor Swift’s perspective on this really opened my mind.

She said, being alone in your 20s gives you a different kind of autonomy and independence. If not, every single decision you make will go through the filter of “What will my partner think of this?”, whether it’s getting a certain haircut or choosing a university or moving halfway across the world.

And it kind of prevents you from exploring certain things on your own – from being your own person. If you get married to that person and you live happily after, great. If not, I personally wouldn’t be happy with my precious youth being wasted just like that. Especially since most people seem to hate their exes with a passion. And when they remove that person from their life, they tend to remove certain hobbies / art / places they enjoyed as well, which is a shame.

If I want to do something, I simply do it without having to go through a filter of worrying what someone thinks. I never worry about if I look nice enough to impress someone, or feeling the need to text everything I do to someone, or God forbid, giving up an opportunity to pursue my hopes and dreams for someone.

Here’s a great resource for those who want to thrive being single by choice. I think it’s ridiculous that the idea of happiness is tied down to when you meet The One / your jodoh. It implies that single people can’t find happiness, or that there’s something wrong with them.

I’ve grew up surrounded by adults who met each other in university. My parents met when they were doing their accounting degree in Liverpool – they even have graduation pictures together. So for my whole life, I was conditioned to think that life worked that way: you magically meet your true love in university (specifically, as an undergraduate in your early 20s). And that’s what I desperately desired for 22 years. I think I finally made true peace with being single a few months after graduation last year, after accepting that reality is not always that straightforward. Which is ironic, because in the summer months a few friends I know got married with their university sweetheart immediately after graduation.

I love being single. I honestly fricking love it. I make my own decisions. I do whatever I want, whenever I want, however I want. I don’t desperately listen to heartbreaking songs at 2AM while thinking about a specific person. Not planning on not being single anytime soon! I’m almost in my mid-20s – I have absolutely zero tolerance for trash and clownery and time-wasting at this stage of my life. Zero. I think in the long term, sekufu-ness (compatibility) is way more important than “falling in love”, whatever that’s supposed to mean. If I ever feel like settling down someday, I just want a serious taaruf, make sure that we’re properly sekufu, and settle down within less than a year, InshaAllah.

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Creating contentment.

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