Society generally frowns upon solitude — there is a certain stigma against being seen alone. If you are not around people, you are considered asocial (not antisocial, which means against society). The amount of people who know you dictates how others perceive you. If you are popular, you are seen as a ‘better’ person compared to one who has few friends. And yet, oftentimes, it is the latter who has the deepest connections to people and who is happier than the popular one. If you put the popular guy in a situation where he is completely alone and disconnected, he will suddenly lose all sense of self and become someone completely different — he depends on other people to shape who he is. Put the unpopular guy in a situation with a lot of people and he will retain his personality and composure, because who he is does not change based on who is present around him.
So many people today define themselves by the people they spend the most of their time with. They take on those people’s opinions or collective thoughts and do not pause to question whether they truly agree with that opinion or thought. They are constantly looking for affirmation from outside sources, rather than from within themselves. It is a poisonous thought cycle, because as soon as you stop receiving that affirmation, a sense of worthlessness creeps in as your self-confidence is crushed. If someone insults or critiques you, you crumble under the assault rather than stand up for yourself and trust that you have made the right choices.
As I grow older and meet more people, I notice that the most emotionally intelligent people I have come across are those who spend a considerable amount of time on their own, away from people both in real life and online. It is these people who have the closest friends whom they can rely on unconditionally, because the two understand one another and respect each other for more than their outward appearances or opinions. They see each other as human beings, both equally complex. This understanding can only come from a deep knowledge of oneself and a confident assertion of what you truly believe in. To reach this state of mind, you have to be alone.
To be alone is to force yourself to be one with your own thoughts and emotions. It is to let everything that you do be dictated by your own desires, not by outside forces. When you are away from the constant input of information, your mind begins to take what it already knows and filter what is important. But you ultimately choose what is important. Without someone telling you constantly what to do or how to act, you discover who you truly are and what it is that you really want from life. You start to see what has been taking up your time — time that could have been focused on advancing yourself. Most of all, you start to see who out of all the people in your life is a real friend — someone who would stick by you no matter what happens in your life. It is those real friends that are worth putting time into and developing relationships with, rather than forming relationships based on outer impressions. As Marty Rubin puts it,
“Solitude is where one discovers one is not alone.”
True solitude will help you transcend from judging based on these outer impressions to understanding through the intricacies of the workings of everyone’s inner mind. It will help you gain perspective as the constant information flow halts.
“A man can be himself only so long as he is alone, and if he does not love solitude, he will not love freedom, for it is only when he is alone that he is really free.”
– Arthur Schopenhauer
Solitude has made me into the person I am today. It has helped me form multiple healthy relationships with people and taught me the value of the inner self. It has taught me that people are so much more complex than they appear and that there is depth in every person’s actions. It has helped me gain control of my time and allowed me to identify and focus on the activities that I truly enjoy doing. Most of all, it has taught me self-confidence. I trust myself because I know there is a reason for everything that I do.
So do not be afraid to be alone. If anyone says anything against you, trust yourself and realize that there is a reason for everything you do also. It’s up to you to make sure that reason is one you are truly happy with.