“Allow yourself to grow and change. Your future self is waiting.” -Unknown
Not to be dramatic, but I really mean it when I say that solitude changed my life. I am an extrovert who loves humans, socializing, and learning from people and experiences. I’ve always enjoyed being around others, and don’t get me wrong, I still thrive this way. But when I got Covid in 2021, life completely changed, and it’s not the only way I thrive now.
Before Covid, I’d been living my life in a way that wasn’t serving me. I was partying a lot, not eating well, and living in chaos, with very little rest. I constantly had my schedule booked, leaving no time for self-care. I felt like I was living life for others, ignoring what I needed.
I made mistakes, like blowing off my priorities because I was in a terrible headspace, and I continued living an unhealthy lifestyle until I finally had a talk with myself and realized this wasn’t right for me (then Covid came along, and sh*t got serious).
I didn’t immediately enjoy quarantining and being stuck at home, away from friends and family, but before I got sick, I knew change was coming. And though I felt a lot of resistance, I also felt that a new version of myself was on the way.
While I’m usually not one to fight change, there was so much going on at once, and it was a lot. I also learned that I was one of the people who suffered from panic attacks and anxiety as a side effect of Covid. The aftermath was worse than having the virus itself.
This lasted almost a year. I felt so bad for myself; I couldn’t believe that this is what life had come to for me. I was even losing my hair. Some days I’d wonder if this dark tunnel would ever come to an end and show me light. Things felt very heavy, but I also had some of the most beautiful things going on at the same time, like living in the city with my now fiancé, so it was all very confusing.
I began to lose sleep, which was unusual for me. My inner world felt like chaos. There were lots of tears and weekly therapy sessions (which also changed my life). Therapy and journaling became my safe spaces to release and understand myself.
Throughout the year of that inner chaos, what did I learn? Surrender. I was trying to maintain full control of my life and keeping busy while actively avoiding working through suppressed emotions from times when younger Naila would over-extend for others, and completely forget to take care of herself. I didn’t want to listen because I was afraid. And that’s human nature, to fear the unknown.
So, here’s a reminder that the Universe forces you to slow down and redirect when you’re not listening. This also means it may hurt more since we didn’t consciously welcome the change.
Over time, I have gone through so many phases and such inner growth. I began working with my wonderful therapist and quit a job that was not working out for me as expected (which hurt). I’ve lost people and my relationships changed, thankfully most of them for the better.
As soon as I let go of control and put in the hard work, things got better, and I saw results—even if they were just small victories. I was starting to see that light I’d been waiting for. My body felt lighter as I began to release dead weight from my body and I began to feel like myself again, but this time, better than ever.
I chose watering myself over destructive behaviors. Instead of focusing on the anxiety attacks and trying to force myself back to sleep at night, I meditated. I chose solitude over socializing. This was the peak of my growth.
Sometimes, we get lost in the chaos of this busy world. We get sucked into conversations and company we don’t actually enjoy. Society tells us to be productive 24/7. Our worth is based off money, accomplishments, and what social media sees. Conversations are about what we are instead of who we are.
Long before this journey, I was used to overbooking my schedule, always very busy. I would work two jobs, scheduling anything I could in between and going to school at the same time. I enjoyed it then.
Solitude and self-reflection taught me what I truly care about: genuine connections, giving and receiving love, nurturing myself just as I do others, and living, not just surviving.
My higher self told me that the world’s expectations are not my own, and that it’s okay to choose a different path than I once wanted (or society told me I wanted). As I’ve learned in therapy, I am my own worst critic, so my new path is all about letting life unfold naturally, without constantly criticizing myself for where I thought I’d be in life, especially in my career.
I began to reflect on my life, my inner child, and current self. Most importantly, I began to heal from things I’d stored away from childhood pains and days long ago during an abusive relationship. I let go of self-sabotaging behaviors and decided to finally listen and release, then the inner turmoil started to calm.
Because I was spending much more time alone, I learned a lot about myself. Solitude helps us build trust with ourselves and teaches us about our true desires. We begin to tolerate less and prioritize differently. I value very different things now than I once did. I’m getting to know my true self, and that’s something no one can teach you or prepare you for.
I also want to emphasize that solitude is possible while you’re in a healthy relationship.
Throughout my dark days, I had my now-fiancé supporting me through it all while letting me heal and grow. Him supporting my solitude made me that much more successful on my journey. When someone around you offers love, respect, and support, it makes it easier. Their company becomes a bonus and not a burden. Previous Naila didn’t think this was possible, and I’m grateful things panned out differently.
Overall, I have learned that the “dark” times were actually just lessons and periods that catapulted my growth and healing. The tough times are temporary, and there is strength and clarity in solitude. As of today, I cherish my solitude; it’s a vital part of my being. I also learned that there is light at the end of the dark tunnel. Yes, even when it’s long and scary.
In this new chapter of my life, rest is high on my priority list, not overworking and overbooking. I am much pickier about who/what I surround myself with, much more productive, and still growing and ever-changing.
My life is much more peaceful and calm, and my boundary-setting skills are much stronger. These are lessons I couldn’t learn as an unbalanced extrovert. I’m a better version of myself now.
So, if you’re an extrovert who forgets to prioritize yourself, someone who’s going through a dark tunnel, or someone who avoids change, this post is for you. Instead of being afraid of solitude and change, learn to accept them and watch how they transform your life for the better.
As my dad once told me, change is the only constant in life, so get comfortable with the uncomfortable.
I believe in you. ♥
About Naila Matloub
Naila Matloub is a registered yoga instructor who aims to share her passion for helping others through their journeys as she wanders through hers. She got her inspiration from her travels and through people she met along the way, and she writes about the lessons and experiences on nailamatloub.com. Naila is a true lover of life and embraces all that this world has to offer.