Being alone is in right now.
People love being alone – they blog about it. Preach about it. Tweet about it. They even write whole books about it, claiming that there’s no greater pleasure than learning to be happy with oneself and shielding ourselves from everyone else’s input.
And I get that – to an extent.
It sucks not knowing who you are. It sucks needing constant validation. There’s nothing worse than requiring someone else to fill in all of the blanks of who you’re not and feeling incomplete in your own presence. These are problems and they’re real and we have to address them. But does anyone else feel like we’ve taken this aloneness thing a little bit too far?
When, for example, did being alone become something that we wear like a badge of honour? When did connection become something we scorn out of pride? When did we stop getting to know each other in a real, legitimate ways because it became that much easier to hook up, shut up and pent up our emotions when we needed to feel them the most? We are all so damn proud about being emotionally unavailable that it’s skewing our emotions horrendously – turning us into cold, lifeless, robotic versions of ourselves.
I’m here to say something radical: It’s okay to not want to be alone in your life. No, really. It doesn’t make you an insecure, co-dependent mess. It doesn’t make you pathetic. It doesn’t even make you an anomaly – quite the opposite. It makes you human.
We all need connection. The very reason we’ve survived as a species is because we’ve learned to live interdependently. Humans are biologically wired to require love, validation and belonging and the longer we try to deny this for, the more miserable we’re going to make ourselves. Alone may be the new black, but it’s just as dreary a shade.
I am tired of hearing the old adage “You have to be okay alone before you can be happy with somebody else.” I understand the premise behind this but I don’t enjoy the message. We’re telling people they don’t deserve connection, belonging and love if they are not first 100% satisfied when they’re on their own. Do we really believe that? Do we actually think that aloneness is the only way to grow as a person? Because I’m inclined to argue the total opposite: That being alone makes us smaller, not bigger. Simpler, not smarter. And more depressed, not more independent. We need other people to lean on in our times of struggle. And perhaps more importantly, we need them to learn from.
Nobody exists in a vacuum – and nobody succeeds in one either. There’s so much to be said about the ways we can inspire each other to be bigger, stronger, better versions of ourselves – versions we could never have become on our own. We have the infinite resource of each other at our disposal – people who have been through what we’ve been through, faced down our same demons, risen above them and are ready to share their strategies. To deny ourselves this opportunity would be madness. To think we don’t deserve that kind of care and affection would be blasphemous. We all require love – the strong, the weak, the fearless, the meek, the lost, the found, the whole and the broken. Anyone who’s ever risen above a period of struggle in their life knows this. It’s the reason why the most courageous people out there are often also the kindest.
There are times where introspection and self-reliance are importance. But we have to draw a clear distinction between healthy aloneness and painful aloneness. There is nothing honourable about hiding out from others. There is nothing impressive about living without love. It is no admirable feat to stay sheltered and refuse others access to your pains and your joys and your struggles. Anyone could do that. What takes true strength is opening ourselves up to others. Exposing our insecurities. Putting ourselves on the line and admitting, “This is who I am and where I’m at right now.” Even if where we’re at isn’t exactly where we’d like to be.
I think the only thing braver than being alone is learning to trust not being alone. Learning to rely on each other, to give and take from each other, to be secure enough in ourselves to understand that other people are not what we need to shrink away from in order to preserve our well-being. We need to take the prospect of being alone off a pedestal and accept it for what it too often is – an excuse. An excuse to shrink further into ourselves, hide ourselves, shame ourselves internally for all of the things that we’re not. We want to emerge into the light all successful and glittery, hiding our downfalls in the dark. We choose aloneness not because it empowers us but because it doesn’t embarrass us. It doesn’t require us to show our weaknesses to the world.
You don’t have to want to be alone. You don’t have to want to be single forever, live alone forever, thrive on your own without the help of anybody else. You’re a human and you crave connection – just like the rest of us. You’re brave for understanding that. You’re noble for knowing it.
You need to be loved. Just like everybody else. And I promise you that, in that sentiment, you are never going to be alone.