Being Alone

Being alone is hard, worth it, draining, empowering, and lethal to overdose on. Do it, learn to enjoy it, do it often, and know when to quit.

It’s more than just taking yourself out to eat or on a solo vacation. It’s watching major life moments – the happy ones – happen in front of your eyes, dreams coming true, just standing there on the sidewalk, trying to press record in your brain like Wall-E did during extra special moments so you don’t forget anything. It’s bittersweet in the kind of way you’ll always remember. It deepens the experience, making it into one of those gold and blue memory orbs from Inside Out – a “core memory”.

There were some times that I felt a bit sorry to not have someone with me to share the experience, but other times were just pure wonder and focus on the experience of living. For anyone considering solo travel, I assure you, there is far more sweet than bitter in the experience. It’s quite liberating and empowering, actually. I can’t recommend it enough as a precious experience and confidence/strength boost.

Brene Brown said that when you’re forced to stand alone in life, “…your heart gets marked by the wild.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_sYCThUQc8&list=WL&index=17

Something I have seen almost no discussion of in online chat groups for solo travelers is the crippling loneliness that comes with being a digital nomad. Done right, it has truly been an exhilarating fairy tale dream come true. Done wrong – chronic self-isolating – I’ve watched my mental and physical health drain away. It’s been an eventful road, for sure.

Loneliness is a serious health risk, according to medical studies. Too many of us went through so much more than our fair share of it in the past year and a half of Covid-19 lockdowns and distancing. Truly the pandemic has been a long-term collective trauma, and I wonder how many of us have made permanent lifestyle changes as a result – not going back to the office, or perhaps getting a little too used to not meeting up regularly with other people? The CDC website says “Social isolation significantly increased a person’s risk of premature death from all causes, a risk that may rival those of smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity.” https://www.cdc.gov/aging/publications/features/lonely-older-adults.html

Just because I CAN endure it, doesn’t mean I HAVE to. (I saw that quote on Instagram, and that concept, without a doubt, has changed my life.) Don’t operate on a scarcity mentality, doing and feeding yourself only as little of what you need or want as necessary to survive. You. Can. Have. What. You. Want.

Don’t do this to yourself. Don’t slip into hermit-hood and darkness without a fight. Don’t you deserve community and belonging? Don’t you want it? It gets so lonely it’s genuinely dangerous out there, in the dark on your own. If you’re getting cold and hungry out there in the wilderness of isolation, march up to the door of some happy lit-up house and knock. And then keep knocking, on as many doors as you have to, until someone answers. Gyms, places of worship, dating apps, online meet-up groups, that person you met at the party, your friend on the end of the phone in another town, that kid who needs a kind word, your elderly neighbors, anything. Your survival, and equally importantly, your thriving, are at stake.

And just maybe, theirs as well.

“Hello Sunshine”, Bruce Springsteen, 2019

Had enough of heartbreak and pain
I had a little sweet spot for the rain
For the rain and skies of grey
Hello sunshine, won’t you stay?

You know I always liked my walking shoes
But you can get a little too fond of the blues
You walk too far, you walk away
Hello sunshine, won’t you stay?

You know I always loved a lonely town
Those empty streets, no one around
You fall in love with lonely, you end up that way
Hello sunshine, won’t you stay?

You know I always liked that empty road
No place to be and miles to go
But miles to go is miles away
Hello sunshine, won’t you stay?

Published by gracexaris

Explorer, thinker, writer, teacher, woman.

5 thoughts on “Being Alone

      1. I’m familiar with the old fashioned way of conceiving of humanity as a single man (never a woman, as men are presumed to be the default state of humanity), it’s just curious/unusual to see it used in the present day.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s certainly crucial to be one’s own best friend! I always have been, and I absolutely love being alone. It just can’t be the only state of existence, just as constant company and stimulation can’t be the only state of existence either. Modern society is actually far more individualistic, and therefore isolated and fragmented, than traditional society. Technology and entertainment are easy substitutes for human interaction.

      Liked by 1 person

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