"Our generation loves bragging about being antisocial, cutting people off, and not trusting anyone. Like that's an accomplishment."
I came across the above meme the other day and was instantly reminded of when I silently declared, "My cut off game is too strong." And honestly, loyalty and friendship are things I struggle with.
I'm not the girl running around excusing my flakiness, selfishness, and, at times, unwillingness to do things on other people's terms with a stale, "It's hard for me to maintain friendships with women."
I acknowledge that I am a work in progress. I have control issues and sometimes fail to see why others won't live their lives in a way that I think works best. Also, I don't like the idea of being dependent on too many folks for emotional fulfillment. But as of late, I've witnessed a lot of people taking the idea of independence to the extreme. It's almost as if being anti-social is the way to be, and I honestly think it's because the idea of friendship as I used to know it has been somewhat warped.
A cousin that I'm super close to called me up the other night and I found myself looking at the caller ID and instantly becoming exhausted. I wasn't surprised that not even ten minutes into the conversation, I found myself smack in the middle of an Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole of who posted what on Facebook and who's blocked from her page. I couldn't fathom how folks in their late twenties with children and adult responsibilities were cutting off relationships and catching feelings over a social media app. It's as if many of us have completely lost sight of the fact that friendship is about more than "likes" and "tags" and these relationships we're proudly ending were pretty shallow in the first place if their fate rests on a status update.
Here's something to consider: There's no need to proudly claim how independent you are.
This idea of any real independence is overrated if you're supposedly getting your independent woman on in a room full of strangers, but constantly craving some sort of digital connection with people you forget exist unless they update their status. I have a friend who every once in a while, whether we're making travel plans for the summer or talking about a reiki convention we'd like to attend, feels the need to remind everyone that she has no issue doing things by herself.
But this same friend constantly feels the need to update her digital circle on everything she does alone. So the whole time she's enjoying her own company, her social media is bombarded with pics: "Chilling with my rose quartz. #PeaceAndSolitude #NeedMySpace #SelfCare." In conversation with colleagues or casual acquaintances, I've also witnessed other women who when they mention they had drinks at a bar after work alone or went to a music festival feel the need to proudly proclaim, "I went alone and I'm OK with that!"
My question is, when did the ability to do things on your own become such a badge of honor?
I wonder if a culture that places pressure on people to be surrounded by friends and followers all the time, makes some feel the need to declare they are able to enjoy their own company. But with that I wonder, are folks simply just doing things alone to prove a point or truly enjoying their own company? If you're so hype to go to a music festival alone, why are you looking down in your phone the whole time? Why update your status with memes about the joy of canceled plans, if you can't spend time with yourself while sober?
As I grow older and reevaluate my personal friendships, I'm recognizing the importance of maintaining quality friendships that don't require so much work, as well as the value of truly enjoying my own company, which means not needing friends in person or online to validate my time. Maintaining friendships as an adult can be difficult and I love the memes that remind us that many of us are out here juggling full-time jobs, families, career ladders and side hustles, and are just plain tired at the end of the week. A few days without a phone call from your day one just so she can hear herself think shouldn't result in you getting your Tom Hanks in Castaway on feeling the need to declare that you can do bad all by your damn self.
It's okay to miss people. It's okay to feel lonely and it's okay to be alone. And there is a difference.
I need at least one night where I'm alone with my hookah pipe, blasting Ella Mai in my eardrums, and focusing on nothing but my inner peace. But if I'm buying tickets to see "Boo'd Up" performed live, you can bet I want my bestie right next to me belting out the lyrics off key. The ability to enjoy your own company means dealing with thoughts, feelings, pain, and pressure that we all too often distract ourselves from with working hard and playing harder. You know when Solange sang, "I ran my credit card up. Thought a new dress make it better"?
I really felt that shit.
We can all relate to distracting ourselves from insecurities, feelings of failure, and anxiety. We want to be at anyone's bar or in anyone's bed just so we don't have to deal with the mess that can be our feelings. We fill our lives with shallow friendships and temporary moments of happiness just to avoid being honest with ourselves. We attract people we feel the need to impress and prove things to with regularly posted Instagram stories because, outside of a wi-fi signal, they have no idea of who we really are.
But the one thing I've learned is that when I truly was able to enjoy my own company and accept myself, flaws and all, I attracted quality people in my life that were down for me whether I was logged in or out living my best life.
I also became aware of the fact that adult friendships don't require day to day contact and was easier on friends who were simply too busy to call or hang out regularly.
I had time to deal with my own issues and stop distracting myself from them by doing the absolute most.
There's no shame in proudly declaring "Me, Myself and I," but don't sell yourself short on making authentic connections with folks just because things fell through with fake friends. And even the best of people in your circle will come with their share of disappointing behavior. There's a balance when it comes to maintaining healthy relationships with yourself, as well as others, and it's like Donald Glover recently said, "You can totally love somebody and still look out for yourself."
The important thing is that you don't spend so much of your time invested into the lives of others that you become a stranger to yourself.
xoNecole is always looking for new voices and empowering stories to add to our platform. If you have an interesting story or personal essay that you'd love to share, we'd love to hear from you. Contact us at email@example.com
Want more stories like this? Check out these xoNecole related reads:
Featured image by Getty Images
- Learn To Enjoy Your Own Company & Fall In Love With The Real You ›
- 9 Reasons We Should Learn To Enjoy Our Own Company ›
- How To Enjoy Your Own Company | #RealTalkTuesday | MostlySane ›
- How to Enjoy the Pleasure of Your Own Company ›
- Why You Need To Enjoy Your Own Company ›
- The Importance Of Enjoying Your Own Company | Thought Catalog ›
- 13 Rules for Being Alone and Being Happy About It ›
- 30 Ways To Fall Back In Love With Your Own Company | Thought ... ›
- 5 Tips for Enjoying Your Own Company - mindbodygreen ›
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Imma tell y’all what — it seems like not one week goes by when I don’t see some sort of so-called term that has me like, “What in the world?” For instance, when I first stumbled upon “self-partnering,” honestly, I laughed. Then shared it with some other single people as well as married folks I know. And I kid you not, every individual was like, “What the heck does that mean?” When I told them that it was yet, one more way to seemingly define single living, basically everyone’s follow-up was, “Oh, brother.”
Why can’t (more) singles just be single and be okay with that? Good Lord. Why does there need to be some sort of relational play-on-words to make it sound like we’re with someone — even if we’re not?
Now masturdating? Even though it’s not even close to being a “real” word, it’s something that also brought a laugh outta me — although it was then followed by a genuine smile. The laugh because I almost immediately caught the play-on-words. The smile was due to the intention behind it all.
If you’re not familiar with what masturdating is and you’re curious about why you should even care, take a few moments to at least skim through what it’s about and why I think participating, as a single person, is a pretty cool (and effective) concept.
Masturdate: a date w oneself
What’s Masturdating All About?
Masturdating. Okay, so let the word marinate for just a moment. What does it sound like? Yeah…exactly. And since a huge part of masturbation centers around self-pleasure, it’s cool to explore how “self-dating” could produce similar (as far as pleasure is concerned in a broader sense) results. Because masturdating is all about spending quality time with yourself, pampering yourself, treating yourself— and yes, taking yourself out on dates.
Any of you who may think that masturdating is a consolation prize — and a pitiful one at that — for not being able to go out with another human being or get that dream $200 first date that social media was all in a tizzy about last year (bookmark that) — personally, I think that you’re the demographic who needs to try out masturdating first and the most. Why? Off top, I’ll share my three good reasons.
3 Reasons To Strongly Consider Masturdating
1. It’s an intimate way to get to know yourself better. I’ve been working with couples for a pretty long time at this point and if there’s a pattern that I see arise, OFTEN, it’s that two people are oftentimes so busy trying to “find their person” that they didn’t even know who they were. As a direct result, they found themselves in a relationship with someone who only complemented the “kiddie pool version” of who they were.
That’s why it can be so beneficial to spend time getting to know yourself on the “deep end” of things: what makes you tick, what your passions are, what you want most out of life, what are your interests beyond obvious things — and masturdating can help you to discover all of this. Whether it’s traveling alone or taking out a weekend to drink some wine and journal, the more you get to know yourself, the clearer you’ll be about who complements you on a romantic and friendship level.
2. It will definitely help to boost your confidence levels. I guess since I’m an ambivert, I don’t really get why people freak out at the mere thought of going to a restaurant or movie alone. Personally, I think it requires a helluva lot more energy and gumption to wait around and plan stuff with other people (#Elmoshrug). However, whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert, there’s no way around the fact that the more comfortable you get with doing things alone, the more your confidence levels will increase — no, soar — because of it.
One article that I read on the topic said that doing things alone can make you more creative, improve your mental health, and help you to be totally okay with being alone (so that you’re not “needy” for other people’s attention). A psychotherapist from a New York Times article on the benefits of spending time alone said, “Getting better at identifying moments when we need solitude to recharge and reflect can help us better handle negative emotions and experiences, like stress and burnout.” And when you’re able to stare negativity in its face without flinching, how could that not make you bolder, more self-secure, and hopeful about your life?
3. It will teach you to value your time more effectively. In every facet of your world, you’re gonna operate from a healthier place if you’re operating from a “full cup” rather than an empty one. When it comes to this topic, think about it — if you’re constantly waiting on someone to call you to go out or wishing for a dream date with some guy, all you’re doing is wasting precious time that you could be spending taking a cooking class or hell, hiring a chef to make you dinner at your own home.
Indeed, waiting has two sides to it: when it’s in the form of patience, it is indeed a virtue, yet when it’s wrapped up in the notion that you’re not really living life unless you have an audience…it is totally working against you. Choose wisely.
10 Solo Date Ideas To Help You To “Master” Masturdating
So, what if you’re someone who has either never considered actually masturdating before or you don’t really know what to do beyond dinner and the movies? Here are a few ideas to consider:
1. Attend a workshop or masterclass that you’re interested in. If there’s something that you’ve always wanted to learn, sign up for a workshop or masterclass. The cool thing about this option is there are probably some in your city, as well as some that you can find online (like here) that are convenient and affordable.
2. Binge-read at a local coffee shop. Aside from their coziness and oftentimes inviting scents, I once read that a lot of us gravitate to coffee shops because we can be around people without having to actually socialize with them. So, if you want to “hang out” while still being able to enjoy a bit of solitude, take a book that you’ve been trying to finish to a local coffee shop, order your favorite latte, and sit in a big-ass comfy chair. Usually, you can sit there for hours, and the staff will be just fine with it (another bonus).
3. Have a spa day in the next town. You can never go wrong with a spa day. And while going with a friend can be fun, sometimes there’s too much talking transpiring to be able to fully chill out and relax. So, go off of the grid, get a change of scenery, and hit up a spa in the next city (or town). There are lots of studies out here supporting that day trips or “daycations” can actually be really good for your long-term health and well-being.
4. See a community play. Some of the best solo dates that I’ve ever been on consisted of taking in some of the local arts in my city. What’s really cool about this particular option is, oftentimes, they are extremely inexpensive, if not totally free of charge (in exchange for making a donation or putting money into a tip jar).
5. Plan a trip. Whenever people say something along the lines of, “If you don’t expect anything, you won’t be disappointed,” I know that they low-key have some (additional) healing to do from past disappointments. There’s simply too much intel out here to support that anticipation (of good stuff) makes us more motivated and optimistic, keeps our dopamine levels up, and makes life more exciting overall.
Since traveling alone is more cost-effective, gives you the freedom to do whatever you want (when you want), and increases the possibility of meeting new people and having new experiences on your journey — why not devote a day this weekend to planning a solo trip? All the way around, it’s good for you.
6. Try your hand at your own “$200 date.” Uh-huh. Roll your eyes if you want to, but it’s real easy to talk left about how a man should be able to just drop $200 like it’s nothing…until you actually try to do it. So yes, while taking yourself out on this type of date could serve as a bit of a reality check, it can also “scratch the itch” of waiting on some dude to do it for you. It’s also way less emotionally draining because, at least when you’re taking your own self out, it’s guaranteed that you’ll enjoy the company…right?
7. DIY some pampering. When you get a chance, check out “5 Reasons You Should Unapologetically Pamper Yourself,” “Want To Love On Yourself? Try These 10 Things At Home.,” “I’ve Got Some Ways For You To Start Pampering Your Soul,” and “When's The Last Time You Actually Pampered Your Vagina?” The bottom line here is pampering is all about, not mere self-maintenance; it’s all about treating yourself to levels of EXTREME SELF-INDULGENCE. So, if nothing else tickles your fancy on this list, at least consider doing that, chile.
8. Feed your creativity. Something that I used to be really good at is art. That said, one of my goddaughters is insanely talented, so she has reminded me to tap back into it. Also, a big part of what got me into the writing world is poetry; I actually used to be a house poet at a local spot. Sometimes, my best quality time moments with myself have been revisiting these creative sides of me — and this is definitely easier to do (and enjoy) alone.
9. Try some stargazing. When’s the last time you took a blanket into your backyard, laid down on it, and just stared at the stars for hours on end? While some say that stargazing can teach you to be mindful, others say that being in that form of nature reduces stress, while others believe that looking up at the universe at night can increase your attention span. All solid reasons to give it a shot, if you ask me.
10. DO. ABSOLUTELY. NOTHING. Let me tell you something that nobody will ever be able to make me feel bad about: doing absolutely nothing. I’ve got data to back me up. Good Housekeeping shares that doing nothing can help you decide how you want to respond or react to certain things. I like howThe Guardian says that taking this approach helps you to regain control of what you give your attention to.
TIME magazine says that it can ultimately make you more productive.BBC offers up that it can help you tap into your ingenuity.Henry Ford Health says that it can make you kinder and a better problem-solver. So, if you want to invest in yourself, do nothing sometimes.
Closing Thoughts from the Lovely Javicia Leslie
While some of y'all may know Javicia Leslie from being the former Batwoman, I discovered her back in the day from the indie series Chef Julian (and yes, "Julian" was right to say that "Mo" looks like Tatyana Ali...the real ones know). Sometimes I'll hop on her IG to see what she's got going on and this story popped up within a few hours of me penning this...so, I took it as hella confirmation.
TREAT YO SELF. WAIT FOR NO ONE.
WAIT FOR NO ONE. TREAT YO SELF.
RINSE AND REPEAT.
Sooo…what kind of masturdating plans do you have for this coming weekend? While going out with others has its perks, hanging out with yourself has a ton of ‘em too. Enjoy!
No…for real. ENJOY!
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Featured image by FOTOGRAFIA, INC./Getty Images