The Sweet Side of Solitude
Let’s face it: we’re obsessed with people.
The simple act of reading these words is a confession in itself. We live in a world inundated by information, photographs, names of places and faces we may not even know – but admittedly, wish we did. Where FOMO (fear of missing out) is a legitimate term being thrown around the web, it is inevitable that we are constantly crowded into a corner where every thrust, turn and click brings us face to face with another one of us, and when we are not, that we feel conscious of the lack of human presence.
Granted, I may not be referring to every single member of the macrocosm of our society, but I’m certainly talking to a generous fraction of it. I’ll raise my hand first to admit that hey, I for one am obsessed. Perhaps obsessed isn’t the best word in this context… in which case, let’s settle on conscious. I’m a very conscious person. There are times when I certainly wish I wasn’t, but it’s a nagging feeling that tugs at the mind: in the moments when the world is moving right past my ears and eyes and I am alone, I do mull over my own loneliness and wonder how it came to be. Of course, then the musings turn to how great it would be to have company by my side. (But the funniest thing about being my kind of conscious is this: once I am put into a situation with lots and lots of company, it can be incredibly draining… but that’s a different story.)
We can’t blame ourselves for wanting company when we’re lonely. After all, we’re a social species. All those arguments about whether or not we are born bad or society makes us bad all hinge upon the assumption that a society does exist and, to a large extent, has an undeniably tangible influence on our lives.
But the more I experience these episodes of solitude, I realize there’s one thing missing from the conversation: we rarely teach each other, or even ourselves, that one of the most fundamental abilities in life is the ability to be alone – and enjoy it. We overlook the fact that we spend most, if not all, of our time on this Earth contained within ourselves, processing our own thoughts, coming to our own decisions, forming our own opinions, executing actions both conscious and unconscious. Before anyone else, there’s us. We are our best friends, the ones with whom we always agree. And yet we push ourselves aside and claim that solitude reflects badly on our presence in this ‘circle’ of life.
It is very important to know how to be social, but I believe it is even more important to learn how to enjoy your own company. Of course I’m talking about being able to sit down in your own room and spend time ruminating over your affairs, but more than that I’m talking about being able to really feel at peace, alone, in the most public of places – be it a restaurant, a movie, at school, in the park… you get the idea. You can make experiences magical on your own; the only thing stopping you may very well be the thought that it would be spent better with someone else. Which isn’t always true.
In life, people aren’t always going to be around. There will be moments when you will inevitably be left alone for long periods of time. To what extent this reality occurs differs from person to person, but everyone will undoubtedly have to face several moments of complete solitude.
What I want to say is this: enjoy it. Cherish it. Learn to enjoy your own company. Eat on your own. Travel on your own. Laugh on your own. And if people laugh at you for being alone, just remember that your happiness is not contingent on other people, but rather the wonder of you yourself. And that’s what’ll keep you laughing forever. Try it once, and see what happens.
As we enter into the brilliant, bursting year of 2015, perhaps this is one thing you’d like to add to your checklist. 🙂