A man can be himself only so long as he is alone, and if he does not love solitude, he will not love freedom, for it is only when he is alone that he is really free. – Arthur Schopenhauer
Being lonely and being alone are two very different things. As I stand here on a rather crowded and delayed central line train at 8.15 on a Wednesday morning, I’d like to explain to you why…
So I was recently asked – albeit rather innocently – now that I had changed the way I looked (the health kick, the fitness, the dress size and most recently the hair) if this meant that I’d now get a boyfriend. As if being single inherently signifies that you are ensnared by an all-encompassing, soul-destroying loneliness. It doesn’t.
When society discovers that a person is alone, we automatically think that there must be something ‘wrong’ with them. They are unfriendly, unsociable or undesirable. The word ‘alone’ results in a whole string of negative connotations. However, being alone isn’t necessary a bad thing. I’m not saying spend your entire life alone, be single forever, don’t take up the opportunity to be with someone you gel with, and end up dying surrounded by 15 Labradors who will inevitably eat your corpse because they’ll be starving. Extreme, but I’m not a cat lady. What I’m saying is, is that there are positives to not only being alone but also spending time alone, in solitude.
I’m very comfortable being on my own. It’s made me the person I am today. While I can be quiet at times, it’s allowed me to ascertain who I am as a person. What makes me tick. What drives me. How easy it is for me to walk into a room and start talking to people. Confidence. It’s made me grow. I mean yes, one can argue that, living away at University, living in Seville, working in Florida all had the same effect on me. But I did all these things by myself, because I enjoy it, and in all honesty, it gets me out of my comfort zone, forcing me to experience new things.
Time on my own also allows me to recharge. One of my favourite ways to spend an evening is to shower and then to sit in bed, start up the ‘Calm’ app on my phone, and meditate. I get to clear my head of the million and one thoughts that are forever busying themselves in my brain, and I’m better for it. It makes me focus, and allows me time to remind myself of what I want to achieve, (I’m a weird one for setting goals, and discovering the next thing to accomplish). It also makes me more productive and calms me down. I mean I’m still fiery and passionate about what I believe in, but I’m definitely more composed than I used to be.
I have the option to leave. Whether it be travelling to new and exotic places, visiting friends, or even taking up a job in a different town, city or country. I could realistically just get up and go if I really wanted to. I have no attachments here, nothing holding me to this one place. No partner, no mortgage, no major ties that place a limit on what I can do. While on the face of it, this can sound a little sad; for me it’s liberating. Almost selfish perhaps too… But I’m only 26. If the option to embrace life exactly in the way I want to is possible, then isn’t the best time to do it now?
Most importantly though, time in solitude allows me to truly appreciate those and the world around me. My parents, my sister and Taurean, my friends, my colleagues at work and those I connect with on a daily basis, be it face-to-face or via a What’sapp message to say ‘hey’. I understand that time with the people you care about is immensely important (just as time alone is), and something you can’t get back once they’re gone, (morbid, but true). I value the world around me too. Its beauty, diversity, colour and to be honest even the craziness – both natural and that created by humans (Brexit, football, global warming…). It allows me to realise how small we are, and how wondrous the world that surrounds us, is.
So no, I’m not lonely, and no I’m not saying I wish to be alone forever. What I am trying to highlight is that being alone is not a negative thing. Embrace it and enjoy it. Everything happens for a reason, from who you meet, to the places you go and the experiences that you have. It brings balance, and sometimes that’s essential for your sanity…