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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.

Reforms allow women in Saudi Arabia to be entrepreneurs

The government of Saudi Arabia announced Sunday women will be able to start their own businesses without permissions of a male guardian. The announcement was made over Twitter by the Ministry of Commerce and Investment, saying “No need for a guardian’s position. Saudi women are free to start their own businesses freely. #NoNeed.”

This degree is part of prince Mohammad bin Salman’s Vision3030 plan, which aims to alter the economy so it isn’t so reliant on oil. To do this, the prince hopes to reduce female unemployment in the country and raise the number of women in the workforce from 22 per cent to 30 per cent.

This announcement is intriguing and somewhat startling for a society that has oppressed women for so many decades. Of course, little detail was released about enforcing this new decree and the challenges facing women once they decide to open a business, such as banking, employees, and sales. There is also a lot of pushback from more conservative members of state.

Back in September 2017, King Salman of Saudi Arabia issued a decree allowing women to be given driving licences as of June 2018. Since then, a Middle Eastern taxi app has signed up almost 1,000 female drivers in February. Their goal is to hire 10,000 by the end of the year. The Ministry of Labour is also reportedly looking into subsidizing car sharing for working women, as public transportation is so scarce.

Both of these decrees are positive changes to Saudi Arabian society; however, until they are implemented, it remains unknown as to how much of an impact they will have.