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How the weekend shift taught me to be alone

A few years ago, I had a gig at a magazine working the weekend shift. I was a recent journalism graduate living in Toronto and thrilled to be on the masthead of a publication I respected. My work week started on Friday and finished on Tuesday. On Saturdays and Sundays, I manned the website solo. For months, I kicked off the weekend by strolling to work on Saturday mornings with a medium roast in hand and no coworkers present. During those days, the office was silent apart from my typing. With no distractions, the weekend was my most productive time and I grew to really love it.

By the time Tuesday afternoon rolled around, I’d be ready for my weekend. The problem: in my mid-twenties, many of my friends lived the nine-to-five life from Mondays through to Friday. Oftentimes it wasn’t that hard to find a companion for a Tuesday evening post-work beer but when it came to planning a Wednesday afternoon beach day or a brunch on Thursday, I was often on my own. Similarly, when others wanted to head to the cottage for a weekend, I was a no. If a friend’s birthday party was going to run into the wee hours, I had to bounce before midnight.

During those months, I spent mid-week afternoons lounging in solitude at Ward’s Island. I went to movies alone at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, I went for long runs through High Park down to the waterfront and I took books to the banks of the Humber River.

As the months wore on, I learned to appreciate being alone. After getting over the initial intimidation of showing up to places by myself wore off, I learned to appreciate my own company. During my workdays in silence, I did more. And on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons off, I didn’t have to wait on anyone nor did I have to compromise on restaurants or activities. During the spring and summer of that year, I dated someone but by fall it was over – mismatching schedules certainly didn’t help. As breakups go, I wallowed at first and then moved on.

With this relationship in the dust, I had even more time to myself. It was during that time that I learned not to feel constricted to my home just because I was without a companion during any given afternoon or evening. It was an important lesson and a blessing in disguise. From there, I started to plan my time differently and without necessarily needing others every single time, I afforded myself more freedom. I shopped alone, freelanced from cafes and cooked fancy dinners for one.

My schedule eventually changed to the standard Monday-to-Friday flow. But by then, my lifestyle and way of thinking was different because of that weekend shift. I continued to do things with just me, myself and I. Last summer, I spent a week on my own in Vancouver exploring Stanley Park, Wreck Beach and the restaurants of Commercial Drive. Then, soon after the calendar rolled over to 2018, I boarded a flight to Colombia. While I had a close friend to live with, the nature of having moved to a new city meant that again, I’d be branching out alone. I frequented neighbourhood patios, worked out at the track and hiked in the mountains. In the early days, I often didn’t have a choice but to do so on my lonesome. I guess my routine from a few years ago was good practice.