By EVA BOTANY
I got my first boyfriend when I was 14. His name was Alex and he liked Pink Floyd, so therefore he was cooler than any other 14 year old I knew.
He asked me out over MSN, which was the instant-messaging medium of choice back in 2004, and as soon as I accepted, I changed my screenname to include a love-heart and an ALEX in it.
The relationship ended when he decided that he wanted a girlfriend that was more suited to him; one with black, spiky hair and an affection for cigarettes, smoked only on slides in forgotten playgrounds. But that was okay.
I moved onto Nicholas, another boy I knew from school. He was blonde and he walked me home from school every day, and I loved him with the kind of passion that only a lovesick 14-year-old can muster.
And then James came along.
Oh, James. He was the tall, gorgeous, basketballer that swept me off my feet before I’d even had the chance to kiss Nicholas. Poor Nick was unceremoniously dumped, once again over MSN, so that I would have my chance with James.
Karma got me back after that one – James dumped me after several months of hiding in deserted suburban streets to make out after school (we weren’t supposed to be seen in our school uniforms). It was winter at the time. I still remember walking an entire 20 minutes out of my way, for two entire years, to avoid seeing him at the bus stop.
There have been many boys since then. A relationship that lasted a year. Another that lasted two years. Another that lasted six months, before blowing into an emotionally abusive mess. There have been non-relationships, with boys interested in my body but really nothing else.
There have been brief flings with boys in foreign cities, kissing in Balinese swimming pools in the wee hours of the morning, stumbling up icy Queenstown steps after a random snowfall. There have been lovers that turned into friends once it became apparent that the chemistry wasn’t quite there.
I’ve had love, I’ve had lust, I’ve had longing glances from across the room, I’ve had 3am pouring-out-the-heart text messages. I’ve had stolen kisses when no-one else is looking, I’ve had the hand on the small of the back that makes you think, yes, he adores me.
And recently, I’ve had a break-up. My relationship of two years ended suddenly, about a month ago. It wasn’t mutual, although I admit that the partnership was largely imperfect, and probably a long time coming.
I was shattered. And my first thought was that I needed to find someone else to move my attention to, to distract myself. A different boy to think about so that I wouldn’t need to feel the stinging pain in my chest when I woke up every morning.
But then I stopped myself. Because – when I think about it - at no point in the last nine years have I actually ever been single.
I mean, of course I have been single for periods of time between all of the aforementioned partners or lovers.
But I’m talking about being PROPERLY single. Really, truly alone. The kind of single where you don’t have any romantic interests whatsoever – not even vague ones.
I’ve always had a boyfriend or a lover or a f**k buddy or someone that I occasionally go to dinner with, or at least someone that I’m interested in, or someone that is interested in me.
There is no-one. No-one that I can casually hook up with when I’m really in the mood to do so on a Saturday night. No-one that I flirty-text when I’m bored and they’re bored; no-one to call if I want to spoon on a Sunday night while watching Masterchef.
And for the first time, I’ve realised that I’ve got to spend some time with myself.
Because I’ve never liked myself. I’ve never liked my own company. And so instead of spending time with myself, instead of getting to know myself, I’ve spent years distracting myself with significant others – using people as a desperate means of escape rather than as a form of company.
Instead of being at peace with myself, I’ve filled my time with tears and texts and endless tumultuous emotions; or by settling into lengthy commitments that aren’t at all right but are convenient and peaceful.
So now it’s time to be single. I’m going to have to finally get comfortable with taking myself to movies and eating Sunday brunch alone in cafes.
I’m going to have to finally consider a holiday alone.
I’m going to have to spend more time with my family and my friends and get to appreciate them more.
And, most importantly, I’ll have to spend more time with me and get to know myself again. Hopefully I’ll get to like myself again. Even the parts of myself that I’ve never been comfortable with.
So here’s my question – how do I get comfortable with being alone, after NOT being alone for so long?
How do I get to be okay with being single, and avoid jumping into something new just for the sake of having some company?
Does anyone have tips for how to be a truly happy, truly comfortable-within-yourself single person?
Please help. I really have no idea.
Eva is an aspiring writer from Melbourne. She’s not very technologically savvy and spends most of her spare time trying to figure out Macs. One day she will write the next great Australian novel.
Any advice or suggestions for Eva, who is single for the first time in over a decade?