Ever since I can remember, I’ve always liked being on my own. I grew up in a house that was filled with nonstop laughter and noise, where it was next to impossible to carve out time and space for yourself, so this fact surprises those closest to me. I never minded the noise or the people; I learned to lose myself in books and my writing to get some alone time when I really needed it.

Even though I am used to being alone and prefer it most days, I secretly hate it at the same time. When it comes to relationships, I feel like I am 10 steps behind, wondering why I can’t catch up to this unknown criteria for being an adult that everyone else follows flawlessly. I am 27 years old and have never been in a serious, meet-the-parents, head-over-heels committed relationship before.

Most of the time, that doesn’t bother me. Until it does. I have a love/hate relationship with being single. I am a very independent person. I don’t mind going places on my own and am proud to celebrate my own accomplishments without an audience. But sometimes, a small part of me hates that I have no one to share the most important events in my life with. A part of me hates having to be the first one to reach out to someone when I need a hug or their understanding silence while I vent.

A part of me hates turning around to share a joke, only for no one to be there.

But that’s when I realize that I do have that support system—through my friends—and that is everything. Social media will tell you that there’s something wrong with you if you’re single. Even though Instagram will make you feel like you need the perfect shot of the hand leading you somewhere or shared smiles over a cup of coffee, I’m here to tell you that you don’t need any of those things to be fulfilled.

Image: Rupi Kaur

You can be happy for people who are in healthy, committed relationships and still enjoy your single life. In order to get there, you have to fall in love with yourself.

Here’s what happens when you learn to love being single.

You get to know yourself a little better. There are so many hobbies that I’ve picked up, clubs I’ve joined that I never thought I’d be able to do on my own. I have a newfound love of solo movie dates, and make it a habit to treat myself to the latest show almost every Friday. This sounds mundane, but I am finally comfortable being alone with my thoughts as I sit in the theatre, waiting for the previews to start.

You realize that platonic relationships are just as filling as the romantic kind. There is no stronger bond than the one you share with your closest friends. It’s cliché because it’s true. Being single for awhile will make you appreciate all of the connections you’ve made in your life, and reflective of the ones you’ve lost.

Most importantly, you learn to love yourself. Self love is a skill that we’re all born with, and yet it is the one that we struggle with the most. You cannot give your all to a relationship if you are not willing to dedicate the same time, energy and effort to yourself. Love who you are when you are with someone, and who you are when you are not.

Trust me, that will make all the difference.