“Friendship with oneself is all important, because without it one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world.” -Eleanor Roosevelt
When I was little, I had various imaginary friends. Eck was the most famous.
I once got in trouble for screaming at my dad to stop the car on the interstate.
“ECK FLEW OUT THE WINDOW!”
I was inconsolable. These friends were real to me, and looking back on it, I believe they were teaching me to be myself— like training wheels for living. They did not judge or interject their ideas or opinions. It was Jaime’s world, and they were just along for the ride.
Luckily, as an adult I have found a plethora of actual human friends who also accept me for who I am, and they never jump out the window of speeding cars. I have CrossFit friends, English teacher friends, writer friends, yoga friends, mom friends, and my favorite, weird friends, to name a few. But one of my proudest and most revolutionary achievements has to be my friendship with myself.
Would you want to be your friend?
I read this question somewhere and found it to be fascinating. I think it helps to explain why as a lifelong extrovert, I am finally embracing and enjoying solitude. Here is my dirty little secret.
I think I’m pretty cool.
Let me explain. If I were to meet me, I would be excited. I would love my outfits, my muscles, and my unkempt hair. I would love all the same books, Indian food, donuts, and splitting my time between the barbell and the mat. But this has not always been the case.
Years of my life were spent as a mean girl— to myself. I hated and criticized many things about my body and life. I thought I wasn’t thin enough, accomplished enough, fit enough, successful enough or a good enough mother. I didn’t ever know what I really wanted. Now I do.
Maybe it is not solitude that I have come to embrace but rather just learning to like my own company. I can say now, “I like this girl. I love hanging out with her.” We visit our favorite local restaurants, sip oat milk lattes, shop thrift stores and get lost on trails and indie bookstore shelves. Occasionally, we even skip town to put our toes in the sand or sit atop mountains.
Perhaps the whole scenario is a luxury of my kids getting older. Alone time was a pipe dream when I had toddlers on my hip. Now with two middle schoolers at home, I can indulge in quiet space for myself. While our present circumstances have made alone time a bit trickier, I have found that time on my yoga mat and solitary walks are a balm for my anxious heart.
In an effort to be the kind of person I want my kids to grow up to be, I’ve decided I want to model this life lesson for them. Do not wait on others or become dependent on outside approval. Befriend yourself. Find out what you love and do it. Be it. Live it.
Be adventurous. Fall in love with as many things as possible. And love yourself. Be the friend that you want to find in the world.
And during those moments in life when you find that you are at war with yourself, you might not be able to bear your own company. Those moments are when you must turn inward. Detox and do the work. You can be the villain in your own life story, but you also get to be the hero.
Live a life that every day allows you to look in the mirror and say, “I want to hang with that person. She is real and kind and has a light in her eyes.”
That friendship will keep you home in your heart wherever this journey may take you. And most importantly, that friendship will open the doors for authentic and meaningful connections with other human beings.
Go friend yourself.