Once upon a time, when I lived by myself and had virtually no responsibilities except for ensuring that I got to work most days and ate occasionally, I found nothing more inane than the directive given by every self-help guru (mostly Oprah) to “find 5 minutes and make time for yourself.” What’s wrong with these women, I thought, that they let everyone take advantage of them to the point that they need Oprah to remind them of themselves?
After all, I had plenty of time to myself. In fact, all I had was time to myself. And it was glorious.
But this morning, when I woke up to find that my fiance was out with the dog at the park (that’s right — I’m writing this and I don’t even have kids), I had an out-of-nowhere moment alone. And as I gazed out the window with my knees tucked under me like I was in a yogurt commercial, enjoying the peace and quiet, I suddenly realized…HOLY SHIT. I’ve become that woman.
I didn’t even realize it was happening, but it had. All of a sudden, having lived with my future husband for over a year, along with a hyper, 50-pound dog that needs constant exercise — again, not even something that relies on my breasts for nourishment — I was hardly ever alone. And that’s why I will never again judge articles like this one in Real Simple: “Make More Time for Yourself.” Sure, it’s cheesy, partly because “making time for yourself” has become way overused. It’s also become some sort of fix-all, like if only you can “steal away” (it’s also become something that uses annoying phrases like “steal away”) for a few, you can get your life back on track.
But not having time for yourself isn’t exactly something that I planned. It’s not like, “well, time to get married, so I’m going to go ahead and forget about these three hours that I otherwise would have spent eating peanut butter from the jar and watching Real Housewives marathons.” It just kind of happened. And as I’m coming to realize, it doesn’t actually mean that you lose yourself. In fact, it often means that you gain something you want — a great job, a great partner, a dog, a kid. So here’s to you, Oprah. I’m sorry I ever doubted you, and I’ll see you again in 25-30 years when I need to know what to do about my empty nest.