We live in a society which sees high self-esteem as a proof of well-being, but we do not want to be intimate with this admirable and desirable person.
How many people can say they have perfected the art of truly being happy and alone? So many of us are constantly looking for fulfillment and happiness through external forces that we forget genuine happiness can only come from within.
I have witnessed so many people in my life filling the void of loneliness by skipping from relationship to relationship. It strikes me now that these friends of mine, and sometimes myself, do not take the time to allow themselves the freedom and opportunity to explore what self-fulfillment and happiness really mean.
As I consider this exploration of self-happiness, I’m thinking of a specific friend (actually it’s Saki) who is making some questionable life choices. It is obvious to me that she is not happy with herself, with what she has accomplished in her own life, and she is instead trying to find that happiness through other people — specifically numerous members of the opposite sex.
I am a firm believer that we, as humans, were made to touch, dream, and be together. However, I also think that in the world we live, many of us do not understand the difference between being alone and being lonely.
Last summer I discovered how to be happy while also being alone. I mean, I spent a lot of time with people but it wasn’t actually being with people. You know what I mean? It was at work, and that’s not the same connection as having a relationship in terms of no longer being by yourself. I had no one to come home to, nobody to whisper sweet nothings to, nobody to have dinner with and tell about my day. I had no one to take vacations with, nobody to cry to or hold me when I’m sad, and no one to take care of me when I’m sick. As a friend put it: I didn’t have my lobster yet. Yet being on my own forced me to learn to be happy with myself. I had to learn to take pride in my own achievements, calm myself in my own terrors, and comfort myself in times of sadness.
But then things changed. I had another source to find happiness in, and I lost myself in the joy and comfort of love’s whirlwind.
Re-finding your happiness, alone, is difficult. At last, though, I can feel the waves of change coming my way. Over the past few weeks, there have been multiple times where I veered back and forth between feeling scared and lonely to feeling a sense of promise in my solitude.
I have no doubt that there will be agonizing and heartbreaking moments in the months coming up, but I also know that there is a silver lining: I know how to support myself.
So many people, like Seki who seeks the company of crowds, are terrified of themselves. The thought of being at home, alone, by themselves, with no one to talk to is debilitating. So they do everything possible to avoid it. Whether it be clubbing, drinking, overworking, overexercising, or any other overactive social lifestyle, they all have the same goal intended: avoiding the pain and darkness of being alone. This comfort is fleeting, though, and not a sufficient long-term method to deal with the true loneliness felt within.
The reality of life is that you are your own person. If you can’t enjoy being alone and by yourself, then how can someone else? You need to find that long-awaited comfort to truly be happy with yourself and with life.
Saki takes a lot of pride in calling herself “single”. However, when one considers that term, how single can a person be when they are always chasing another guy, or spending time at another party, or hanging out with another friend? When Saki looks at her life, she sees “alone” and “single” as two separate terms. But I do not. Being single, to me, is not a status. It is a word that describes a person who is strong enough to live and enjoy life without being dependent on others.
For many of us, being single/alone is hard. Being alone requires us to find the time and slow down enough to let circumstances become enabling to “singleness”. Being alone means you aren’t looking for distraction (like scrolling through your phone’s notifications for some sort of meaning to your life). Instead, being single/alone is the art of embracing all of yourself — discovering what is beneath your surface, learning new talents or redefining old hobbies. Being single is being yourself, without running away from any fault.
As I look to my future, there are a lot of questions as to where I am going and what is planned for me. I may relapse (kicking and screaming, most likely) into loneliness every now and then, but overall I plan to embrace my new found freedom and reestablish what it means to be Ashley. I am going to face the darkness felt when I am completely alone and be one with it. Fearlessly and gracefully.