Written by Siddhi Latey (Weloquent)
I grew up in a joint family, with cousins running between my ankles all day. I barely spent any alone time, and for the same reason I cherished it. One opportunity to do so came in the shape of a family wedding in Delhi that I could not attend owing to upcoming examinations. I had the option of either living with an Aunt down the street or being home alone for all of ten days.
I conjured up my version of a “Home Alone” film in my head and chose the latter. On the first day of my new found freedom, I filled in the hours by doing things that I enjoyed - painting, cooking, binge watching T.V. (not having to fight for the T.V. remote felt magical.) On the third day, I resumed my studies, and took long breaks of snacking on some junk food (without having to share them.)
However by the fifth day, the novelty started to wear off. Being in an empty house from dawn to dusk, started to make me nervous. I began to crave family time and made excuses to make my friends stay with me for longer. That night I called my mother and told her I missed her as tears welled up in my eyes. It was then that she told me that I always had the option to visit my Aunt, but I could also instead use this opportunity to learn how to be alone without being lonely or sad. Her teachings not only changed the way I spent the next five days, but also the rest of my life. I’ve put together some of these tips in hopes that you too can learn how to enjoy solitude instead of shying from it:-
Know the Difference
Quite often, being alone is erroneously confused for being lonely. Being alone is a physical state of having no one present around you, whereas loneliness is a mental state of complex emotions stemming from sadness or abandonment. We pay a very high price for our fear of being alone. It can result in unhappy relationships, can throttle psychological development and can lead to us making unfortunate decisions. If we can learn how to be happy and alone, we’ll be opening ourselves up to many pleasant experiences that life has to offer us.
Commit to Your Own Company
We spend most of our lives with ourselves, and so it is important we work towards making ourselves the most interesting person we have ever met. Be curious about the world around you, spend time developing useful skills that will help you advance in your career, refine your knowledge, and pursue your hobbies. Read, solo travel, and enrich yourself with knowledge of cultures, societies and the world beyond.
In doing this not only will you be spending your time wisely and productively, but you will also be making yourself an individual you are happy to be “alone” with. Your thoughts are the conversations you have with yourself, and the more peaceful and informed you are, the better your thoughts will be!
Use Social Media Prudently
Even though social media promises to connect you with your friends and family, it may leave you feeling more lonely. That being said, the problem is not in the social media apps itself, but in the way you use them. Use social media not for comparison, but to build relationships. Use it to have meaningful conversations and ask your friends about their well-being instead of scrolling through your feed for hours at end. Remember, the flashy, filtered fun, is not a real projection of life. The messy, the sad, the real are cropped out leaving out the small bits that shine -which is what we feed into as a whole.
Additionally while virtual connections are great, nothing can replace meaningful one-on-one in person conversations. Friends and family can dispel our notions of abandonment and make us feel loved and valued - so try to keep those phones away when in company of others.
Know that Time and Loneliness is Relative
Interestingly, being alone on a Monday night seems completely normal whereas spending a Saturday night or the holiday season by yourself may make you feel forlorn and gloomy. Understanding this relativity is crucial for it makes you realize that the feeling of loneliness is temporary. Don’t fall for harmful generalizations, make your own rules, your own norms, your own routine!
Don’t Let it Drive You
It is important to not let loneliness be the driver of your decisions or the lack thereof. Important decisions in your life need not be planned around the fear of being alone. Instead utilise your energy to discover new dimensions of yourself.
If you receive a great opportunity to pursue studies abroad, think more about the new culture, the food and the places you will discover, and less about how you will survive without your old friends. You are likely to not just survive, but thrive beautifully! If you can focus on building a new community of friends, wherever you go you can have a global “family” in every corner of the Earth.
Stay in The Present
Meditation is the answer to many questions of life. Watching your breath, helps you detach yourself from the seemingly huge problems around you, while making you realize what is really important to you.
Most importantly, being in the present automatically steers you away from unhealthy desires that make you want to be here and there, and with this person and that. At that moment, you learn to feel whole, complete, fulfilled, and satisfied.