Spending some time alone gives us the perfect chance to truly find out who we are and what we want from life. It often allows us to live in the moment and gain a little mental clarity, serving like a check-in to see how we feel, so we can consider only our own opinion and not worry about what other people will think.
I find that society today increasingly encourages us to be always on the move, connect to communities, and use social media – to be sociable. And those who don’t prefer their own company can get easily stuck in this trap, trying to escape from themselves by spending all their time with others. But why is it that some of us find being alone so threatening?
Symptoms of Loneliness
When we are alone and feeling lonely, we think we are being ignored and left out. This can be experienced when with someone, but is much stronger if we are on our own. Therefore, we are constantly trying to find excuses and the company of others.
We can see a perfect example of this in our everyday lives: how many times do we actually realize that every single person around us is on their phone, scrolling and scrolling – or posting. Social media gives us the chance to “feel connected,” yet we become isolated, trying to pretend our life is just as perfect as our friends’. I consider people sharing their every second, lonely. Living through an exciting moment, it seems to me, is ruined by stopping to post about it.
Potential Reasons For Loneliness
1. Separation Anxiety Disorder – Separation anxiety can be caused by a trauma in childhood (where the child has been left alone and therefore felt vulnerable), or can be developed in adulthood – after something like a traumatic experience or loss of a loved one. This can lead to chronic loneliness, an unrealistic fear of losing someone. One of the signs of separation anxiety might be panic attack or insomnia after separation from a close relative.
2. Fear of being different – Most of us would probably feel awkward going on a holiday or to a party on our own, so we choose not to do it at all. We know the experience will be uncomfortable, and we think about what people would say and how they would react: “Me alone on the beach? How sad would that look?” Craving acceptance is definitely making us feel lonely. If you think you would like to go on that probably well-deserved holiday alone, just do it! If not, no matter how many friends are surrounding you, you will feel lonely. People are too scared to stand out from the crowd so they copy what everyone else is doing, building up a fake status (both in real life and in social media) so they feel “confident.”
Why Being Alone Is Essential
Instead of gradually solving the issues of loneliness, we tend choose the easier options, like taking drugs. Helping ourselves, however, takes courage, energy, and hard work, while taking a pill or having “just one glass” is only treating the symptoms, not the root cause. There is a quote saying: “Be strong enough to stand alone, smart enough to know when you need help and brave enough to ask for it” (www.frankiejohn.com). Once we are brave enough to face this statement, we are on the right way. Remember that we can only create healthy relationships after we are at peace with ourselves, at which point we might even accept the fact of being alone in this world – in the best possible way:
Many people seek fellowship because they are afraid to be alone … let him who cannot be alone beware of community. He will do harm to himself and to the community. Alone you stood before God when he called you; alone you had to answer that call; alone you had to struggle and pray; and alone you will die and give an account to God. You cannot escape yourself, for God has singled you out. – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
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