THE ART OF LONELINESS
Society has put so much pressure on individuals to always be surrounded by people. It seems like that is one of the units by which we measure what it means to find contentment or even be a well-rounded member of society - to find fulfillment.
With social media, smartphones, smartwatches and smart houses it seems like no one should ever be alone and it even makes it hard to try to "escape" from constantly being connected. I wonder when we started thinking that being alone was the same thing as being lonely. It is a notion that is hard to fight since it seems that they are now interchangeable. Well, they're not. The older I get, the more I realize how "younger me" was so wrong about this. I hardly believe that anyone would prefer or seek to be lonely, but I absolutely think that we all should want and strive to spend time alone.
Alone with self, alone with others, alone with God.
To be really honest, it is hard for me to be alone without feeling lonely. I fight down time and just spending a few hours by myself – even reading has become hard because the silence is so overpowering. It’s a feeling I constantly have to battle because I can see the value of it just being me.
It is in those alone, silent moments that I see clarity - those are the moments when I am able to ponder and analyze things. I can spend time with myself, with my thoughts - no strings or judgement attached. This allows me to find meaning to the way I speak, act, and feel. It's honestly liberating.
We live in a world where our intentions, hopes, and wishes are scrutinized and compared, to the point that what we wish and do is no longer us, but a result of what we think is expected of us.
It is in those moments alone, in the silence, that I hear my true intentions and wishes. The time where I reflect on why I want the things I do - it's not about pride or wanting to show off who I'm becoming or what I have, it's who I honestly want to be. It is also the time where my main concerns and conflicts cannot just be shared with people around me but should be shared with God.
Sometimes, no matter how wise or comforting someone's words may be, sometimes they are just not enough. That is when being alone is the most important. I often reflect on how Jesus chose being alone or just with a few people time and time again. He knew how short his days would be on earth, how short his life would be surrounded by his friends, by the people he loved, and especially doing what he loved - sharing of the goodness of the Father. And yet, we read of Him going up a mountain, alone, to reflect and analyze his anguish, to speak to God. I think that sometimes I focus too much on how little time I have to do the things I want to do or to spend time with the people that I care about. Truthfully, I make this a big part of why I avoid being alone. Because "I am wasting precious time" that I could be spending "enjoying life". But how can you enjoy life if you never stop to look back and recognize it?
So, I’ve realized that being alone is a good thing, almost a luxury with how fast paced our world is constantly going. I have come to terms that I need to not shy away from enjoying a day off by myself, to enjoy a bit of refreshing silence - though it is hard.
Being alone looks different for everyone and some days there's only a certain level of "alone" that we can bear. Today, for me, that means choosing to be alone at a coffee shop instead of frantically trying to find someone to share a cup of coffee to avoid "loneliness". But in a different perspective, this is no loneliness, this is beauty.
I challenge you to step back and spend a few hours by yourself even if it is hard - it's a shift of perspective, a shift in worldview. When you do, you'll see just how truly refreshing your own self really is.