Friday night in summer. I can hear the cars buzzing, kids laughing, radios blaring “Bad Blood” and where am I?
Snuggled up on my couch reading or watching some YouTube vlogs, completely and utterly by myself. Am I sad about this current state? Against society’s social stigmas, I am completely in favor of this self imposed isolation. Being alone does not mean I am lonely.
And that’s what unnerves people the most. Author Sara Maitland puts it quite well in her book, “How to Be Alone.”
“…being alone can be beneficial and it is certainly not detrimental to well-being, provided the individuals have freely chosen it. A good deal of the ‘scientific evidence’ for the danger [of solitude] to physical and mental health comes from studies of people in solitary confinement.”
For the social butterflies of the world, I sometimes wonder if all those activities, brunches, running clubs are really things they are truly interested in or go just to not be alone. Can people really be themselves only when surrounded by other people?
That is a slightly concerning proposition. It opens up the kind of questions that would normally come up in a office with a leather chair, large tomes of Freud, and a lady with a salt and pepper hairdo with an impressive doctorate from Stanford. “If you can’t be alone with your own thoughts, what about yourself bothers you so?” and “Am I not complete without someone else?” Forgive me, Jerry Maguire, but please hit the self-actualization pause button before we go an further, eh?
Simply being able to be alone is a kind of time and space gift. Dear twenty-somethings, please get to know yourselves without the bars, brunches, and outings. Your life does not have to be like Monica and Chandlers’ apartment, filled with “Friends” all the time (completely unrealistic, simply in that fact). Give it time and your life will fill itself so full, “alone time” will sound like the next new Disney fairy tale.
And my dear Millennials, let us banish the super stigmatization of loners, shall we? As Maitland writes, “Fear muddles things up; it is difficult to think clearly when you are scared. When we are frightened we tend to project this onto other people, often as anger: anyone who seems different starts to feel threatening…At the moment a very popular media-inspired terror is the threat of the ‘loner.'”
Let’s make the new form of acceptable solitude be the kind that doesn’t have to be a solo adventure (really the most dangerous type of isolation). I will write my thanks to you all when I have a quiet Friday night by myself.