Sometimes I drown in loneliness; yet there are moments I embrace solitude. It’s really peculiar how one feeling of being alone, can cause two polar opposite feelings to be evoked.
Loneliness is a word laden with emotions. Say you’re lonely, and the people around you sense your longing for company and your exasperation from having no one beside you. It’s that feeling of dread that there’s not going to be anyone ever to share your periods of joys and downs. I feel that, more often than others. Growing up was the worst part. I could be surrounded by tens and hundreds of people going about their daily business, could be with a group of friends laughing and joking, and yet this aching burden of loneliness, that I never belonged there and never would, would plague every minute of my every day. Despite my insides crackling and buckling, I never showed weakness. (I learned that humans were naturally self-centered and nobody had time to really listen to my problems. The ones that did were either genuinely concerned in the spur of the moment, or were just plain curious.)
Everyday was a battle for survival, and loneliness became my only friend, the rest were mere acquaintances. Weakness piled on weakness, my bottled up emotions and burning desire to be accepted went out of control, and eventually it was like my whole life just blazed and turned to ashes.
Yet, the feeling of being alone brings strength from within. Solitude. So much more positive, isn’t it? It’s my greatest comfort when social interactions prove too much. It shelters me from the judgment of my peers, keeps me safe from the world, and sometimes myself, even if it’s just for a while. Solitude is a time for reflection and peace. The world outside doesn’t matter, and the one inside is a tranquil getaway. Certain times, I think too much and start hating myself for every possible thing. But most times basking in the serenity of being alone empowers me and gives me a sense of control and motivation. Only in solitude did I realise that I am ultimately who I wanted myself to be. Nobody can change that. I also learnt that even should the world turn against me for some obscure reason, the only person I can always count on to get myself out of the mess is myself. I am my own strength. I am my own courage. The individual is limitless, and powerlessness is only an obstacle stopping us from understanding and using that fact to our advantage. Once we break down the barrier of helplessness, we are infinite. Our world is in our hands, we can change what and who we are.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that spending time alone is not necessarily a bad thing. I wish I could say we can choose whether we feel loneliness and isolation or gladness for solitude, but the truth is that most times we can’t. They’re just unpredictable feelings that either make or break you. But either way, both extremes teach us something.
Loneliness taught me that life is a medley of wars and challenges, and through these we grow to be self-reliant and independent. We learn who will be there for us in our darkest days, and who are ones that should never be anything more than acquaintances. I also figured out how to numb myself to situations out of my control so as to feel less pain. Most importantly, I learnt that life is never smooth sailing, and I’d rather be alone than be with people that made me feel alone. Solitude, on the other hand, taught me to be strong. It helped me have the guts to face my fears and anxieties head on. Those were the moments I felt that if I tried, I could conquer all the things I never thought I could. I learnt that life was as good as we wanted it to be. I had the power to make it good, and make the good life better.
Mix loneliness and solitude together, it reflects life’s highs and lows. And with every experience, we hurt or laugh, and then we grow. Experience makes us more grounded, and of course, that’s exactly what makes us human. Feelings of loneliness and feelings of solitude, though seemingly identical, are very much different, and yet more similar than we think they are.