I've never been one for lots of friends.
Even when I was little, I only had one real friend at preschool. Apparently, I preferred to sit in the corner colouring with my bestie, rather than join the big group activities. I mean, can you blame me?
I've mentioned in my previous blog about being an introvert during the festive season, my childhood was filled with animal companions. My fondest memories are from my time spent with my fluffy or feathered companions. Connecting with animals is the purest kind of joy.
My tendency to stick to a handful of friends has stayed with me. Although I socialised more often and with a wider group of people when I was at university, I would always return to my core group. I didn't feel the need to have lots of different types of friends.
I think part of this comes back to time. Instinctively, I would calculate my number of friends against the time I would have to be alone. I knew early on that have this time away from people was essential for my mental health.
I'm am blessed that I have never felt truly lonely. There was a time when I was adjusting to being away at home, during my early weeks at university, that I definitely felt homesick. Cue the typical student breakdown and crying on the phone to my mum at 2am, seriously questioning my life choices. Of course, after 2 weeks I was completely settled and had adapted well to this exciting new life.
The first time I lived alone was in 2017. I was due to start a 5 month voluntary placement with the RSPB and would have my own wee flat primarily to myself for the whole time, which happened to be in the middle of the forest. I was apprehensive.
When I arrived, the contrast was stark. I had just finished working in a seasonal ranger role on a seabird island off of the east coast of England (Farne Islands), where I cohabitated with 8 other rangers and, of course, thousands of screeching seabirds. The silence was immense. I was surprised at how much of a relief this was. I hadn't known how much I had been craving this space to breath. This was the beginning of my solitary life.
Since this placement, I continued to live alone. I could no longer bear the idea of co-habiting with anyone. Even if it cost me more money, I knew that my mental health needed this.
I'm lucky to be in my current relationship. My partner has always understood and respected my need for solitude. In fact, it is a desire we share. I was all prepared to have a spinster life with the cliché merengue of cats. I was actually rather looking forward to it. However, I have to admit that having a partner that shares my values has made me immensely happy. Thankfully, we've found we can cohabit rather nicely, even in a tiny home!
I've found this question coming up more often, now that I have a YouTube channel. Most of my videos consist of me rambling through nature, with just our dog Skye for company. This is partly because my partner isn't super keen to feature on my YouTube, but it also reflects reality. I'd say around 90% of my walks are solo, which is very intentional. Its my time to connect with nature, which is my ultimate self care.
Since covid, we are all looking at socialising a bit differently. Some were eager to start seeing their diaries bulge again, so that their free time was all booked up. This is understandable and more than ok. However, I feel that I am not the only one who has fundamentally shifted since the pandemic. Now, my alone time is even more of a priority. I still adore spending time with my loved ones. But I no longer forget to book in times to just be by myself. Or with Skye, of course.
So I may never have big groups of friends. However, I am happier than ever and have decided to nurture and hone the hermit side of me. Being alone isn't scary at all.