When I was a child, I heard a story I’ll never forget…
My mom’s friend had a personal ritual. Every Thursday night, she would come home after a long day of teaching dance classes. Then she’d climb into bed with a carton of vanilla ice cream. The end.
This story stuck with me not because of the ice-cream-in-bed part, though to my child self that did sound pretty good. For me, the real hero of this story was the solitude. Because a ritual feels extra special when it is just for you.
On Sex and the City, Carrie Bradshaw references her “secret single behavior” — eating Saltines with grape jelly, while standing up in her kitchen, reading fashion magazines. “It’s weird, but it just feels great,” she says, causing TV watchers the world over to nod their heads in recognition. But the enjoyment of such behaviors isn’t only for single people — it is simply about being alone.
Personal rituals run the gamut from mundane to offbeat:
My friend Krystal draws a bath twice a week. “I burn a candle in the dark,” she says. More than anything, she relishes the fact that, because she is afraid of dropping her phone in the tub, it is a pocket of enforced screen-free time.
Says Mo: “On summer Fridays, I paint my nails and then take a hot nap (without the AC on), with my still-wet nails resting on my stomach. It’s my thing.”
On Sunday evenings, to combat the dread of the impending week, my friend Sarah watches HGTV home shows while eating Trader Joe’s Unexpected Cheddar paired with a glass of red wine. “There is something about the sameness of it that really calms me,” she explains. “Like how Starbucks always tastes the same, no matter where you are.”
Commutes count, too. “Every day, on my subway ride home from work, I listen to the Homecoming album,” says Kim. “It makes me feel empowered and reminds me of how hard I’ve worked to get where I am. The healing powers of Beyoncé.”
After over a decade living alone, I’ve developed an array of personal rituals (applying face masks! baking brownies! listening to music while lying on a yoga mat!) but the easiest to point to is reading tarot cards, which I’ve done since I was 10. I’ll pull a few cards each day, which gives me time to reflect and to check in with myself. And while this definitely isn’t a secret (hello, internet), it’s not something I usually talk or write about. Because in the end, a personal ritual is exactly that: personal. And that is all that matters.
Do you have a personal ritual? And if so, will you tell us about it?
(Photo of Liberace.)