I went stag to my own high school prom.

No one asked me to go with them. I wasn’t sad about it or anything, it was what it was. I remember a few of the parents of my male classmates said to either me or my parents, that they were proud of me for going anyway and “go girl!” for doing “me.” While I appreciated their recognition, I honestly didn’t think much of it. It was so simple in my head: this is my own prom, I don’t need some random guy’s permission or invitation to attend it. I had an absolute blast: the food was good (to my young tastebuds), and I tore up the dance floor with my friends until I was sweating. I didn’t feel any lack or shortcoming because I didn’t have a date. Some girls who had dates spent their whole night in the bathroom crying over something said date did or didn’t do. While I felt for them, I also was proud of myself for just doing what felt right and simple to me.

Hard to believe I graduated high school 10 years ago. In the simultaneously long and fast decade since then, I’ve grown a lot, experienced a ton, and I’ve lived. I have some battle scars now and some muscle fibers to prove it. I think it’s very easy in this world to feel scarcity, lack, or shortcomings because of things we do or don’t have. If we don’t follow society’s rules or norms, it is easy to get caught up in a game of comparison. I have fallen for the trap before.

I’ve been spending more time in solitude lately. I used to call it spending time alone, but actively choosing to use this new word has shifted my mindset. While it can be a scary adjustment at first, I’m learning from and enjoying my solitude. I drive with the radio off. I walk at the beach or take myself out to dinner. And I’m getting to know myself, because of the noise I’m choosing not to hear.

By allowing ourselves silence, we can finally start to hear the voice within ourselves. That voice has always been there, but unless I actively nourish it, it can so easily get drowned out in the chaos of society, family, friends, and social media. I’ve always “felt” my consciousness residing up in my brain. Lately I’ve felt myself moving from my brain down to resting peacefully in my heart. It’s a really wonderful and calming newness. I still struggle with head versus heart arguments, but I’m learning and applying that I need both of them and they’re stronger as a team.

All of these lessons are grown and concretized in my solitude. Yes, I still have responsibilities and relationships to tend to, but I’m proud of finally tending to my relationship with myself as my first priority. How can you carve out some solitude for yourself?

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