It hasn't always been a challenge for me to enjoy spending time with myself. I once was a 16-year-old who loved to roam solo. On those sunny afternoons when my parents weren't home, I would take the back road and lose myself into the woods. These were a few steps from home but that wouldn't stop me from thinking I was going on an adventure every time I'd do it. And I would do this often after I was back from school and had eaten lunch.
It was lovely. I was left free to roam, and I did. Until my need for human connection took on.
I didn't know how to behave in front of another human being. I would get nervous and start telling jokes I had stolen off Facebook. I would pull off improbable haircuts or wear t-shirts of bands I didn't listen to. I would do all this to seem "cool" and get people to approach me.
My 15 years old self was in constant need of a chat (and my current self still is!). But trying to behave like a person I wasn't pushed me further away from those around me.
Yet, I could be a less put-on version of myself when I was on the internet. Playing video-games was one of my favourite hobbies. Especially the ones where you could play as a team and talk tactics with your "Xbox mates" wearing a headset that made me look like a teenage call-centre employee.
All at once it became how I was spending time most days, before or after working on my high school home-works. I indeed made a bunch of friends playing video games. But I still craved proper interpersonal connection.
At the same time, I was using my computer to record myself playing the guitar and compose songs. It was music production that led me to start collaborating, and later become good friends, with real human beings. These people and their close relatives became some of my best friends. I am still in contact with most of them today, even though I have moved to another country.
Noticing I was able to bond with someone by being myself, I started to spend more and more time in the company of friends than I did on my own.
Because—come on. Spending time with your friends, especially for a boy who's never had many is 10 times better than sitting at home playing video-games in the dark.
This how I lost attraction to the pleasure of spending time on my own. I couldn't do it as easily anymore. It would take me years to realise life is a solo trip, and you need to learn how to enjoy your own company if you want to make it through your travels. You need to be able to appreciate the time you spend on your own.
As I record this message (recording and transcribing is how most of this comes to life) I am walking alone in the bleak roads of west Folkestone. This place must be a paradise for painters and decorators. Stucco everywhere.