Solitude is not synonymous with loneliness.
I don’t mean to say being lonely should carry any negative connotations but when you address the state of lonely, you are either pitying yourself or you should genuinely seek out some relationships. My post is directed toward the former kind, the ones who have talked themselves into thinking they are lonely.
I never contemplated the state of lonely until a couple years back. When I felt lonely, I felt depressed and when I felt depressed, I felt lonely. It is a weird cycle. But more weirdness ensues. I was never really lonely. I have a beautiful best friend who is always a message away and a 6 really reliable friend but the issue is, the geographical distances.
When I first moved to UK in 2008, I formed solid friendships with three of my classmates. We did everything together but as with anything else in life, relationships run their course and life happens. People move away.
Since then I struggled to create solid friendships. As an ambivert, I am comfortable being social and creating connections. Yet, I ended up making a lot of “fake friends”. Sometimes I wonder if some of my friendships are a result of me being bored and alone in a new city as I’ve moved around a bit since 2008.
Having experienced plenty moves throughout my life, I am comfortable with new places and getting outside my bubble. At one point I felt pity for myself and blamed it on the culture. May be I’m too much of an anomaly for the Brits since I don’t fit the typical Indian girl stereotype that westerners have been accustomed to. But then I remember, age 5 in India and not finding my fit at kinder garten where everyone else was busy picking their noses, playing with dolls while I wanted to talk Bermuda Triangle and wishing my Dad was the President of the world so he’d buy me a big-big jet.
Having unpredictable and unusual likings doesn’t help either. Girl friends don’t want to get together and talk about Saturday Night Boxing or Neil Tyson Degrasse. They want to have a glass of wine. I’ll have 1 glass to show I fit in. They want to talk Valentines plans. I want to bake 24 brownies and devour them alone.
For whatever reason, I am on some “bad dates” type reality show where I keep moving from one group of friends to next. The other day I had this conversation with my Mom and found that I have “hung out” with almost every type of friend circle possible + at least 5 different nationality cliques. Everyone I meet is nice and have wonderful stories but that pleasure where I can freely express myself doesn’t exist and on many occasions has made me feel “lonely”.
When I began contemplating the thought of being lonely, I finally arrived at the conclusion that I’m not lonely, I enjoy my company a bit too much. I have always been a bit of a space cadet and that doesn’t make me lonely. As an only child adult, I have been resourceful and know a hundred ways to spend time alone yet having left with no choice but to step outside by bubble, I’m more comfortable than most people to try out different situations and give every person a fair chance.
Being introspective is good. It is nice to go inward but I won’t say it will enlighten you or whatever those new-age gurus have us believing. You need humans around you to learn relationship dramas, people dramas! You have to encounter other egos, other stories or what is the point of this universe?! Who knows, sometimes that drama is what’s needed to push you in a better direction. But then, sometimes you should take a deep breath and give some TLC to your own self too. There’s plenty drama, ego war and what not going on inside your little mind.
When you are in the quiet with yourself, life gets clearer. When the noise disappears, it is time to address that pink elephant. No escaping from your painful shadow personality, all those incidences when the world humiliated your ego, all those problems that need your attention, unfulfilled dreams, basically all other shitty stuff.
Not everything is gloom and doom though. The one thing I noticed from spending time with myself is that I never get bored! I have found plenty ways to keep my mind occupied, including my work.
Whether I kick or moan, if the universe wants me to experience solitude, I have to give in and live in the moment. The more I go against that grain, the more unhappy I will be so it is best to go with the flow. I’m a firm believer that situations call you, people call you and you naturally gravitate toward them. When you are ready, you just know it. For now, I’m totally happy knowing people but not having deep friendships. Truthfully speaking, there was never a void there. I think having 6 people who you can bank on any given day, along with a beautiful family is the making of a blessed soul. In this age of technology, it really doesn’t matter if they are all in 3 different countries.
Making the most of solitude:
1. Find what you really want to try out and do it. There is no shame is going to some activity class alone. You will meet other people at the classes/groups.
2. You don’t have to have company to eat food from your favourite restaurants. Takeaway is a great option!
3. Watch some stand-up comedy! Always cheers me up.
4. Stop thinking that cooking for one person is stupid. It is amazing! I hear this so often from friends that they don’t like to cook when they are alone. Why would you deny your own self that joy of nice home cooked meal? Go all out and cook like you would if you were cooking for two-three-ten.
5. Shop alone, all day! I find it is so much better than shopping with people when I can’t spend as long as I want in my favourite stores.
6. Buy a return ticket to some other city. Heck some other country. But I stick to cities. I like to have a nice day out all by myself where I treat myself to clothes, shoes, sightseeing and cakes.
7. Chat to strangers!
8. Send out emails to extended family. Your old aunts and uncles would love to hear from you once in a while.
9. Stitch, sow, fix everything that you have been putting off.
10. Listen to podcasts! This is my new favourite thing to do.
11. Read! Fill your mind with information. Information replaces ugly thoughts so quickly.
12. Stop pitying yourself. It is perfectly fine to spend time with yourself. No shame in that.
Image Source: Mashkulture.net