“Pray that your loneliness may spur you into finding something to live for, great enough to die for.” - Dag Hammarskjold
“There is no company like loneliness to keep you from being at one with yourself.” - Unknown
I’m not sure why humans feel lonely. In my own experience, we are looking for an answer to the call of our hearts. That call may or may not be answered, in a way that may or may not be satisfactory. It’s why so many people with intimacy issues turn to sex – the immeasurable closeness of the act gives a brief recourse from being alone. Finally you’re one with someone else. Loneliness has to be a top ten fear for most people. It is unthinkable. Tom Hanks could barely get by in Castaway, and at least Will Smith in I Am Legend had the dog.
I find loneliness in so many people these days – my friends, my family, people on the street. Even myself, and I’m someone who has always thoroughly enjoyed being alone. I can be shut away with myself for hours. But at one point or another, we are all lonely, be it because you’re going through something no one else can understand, or away at NS, or by yourself in a strange city where even the weather is so uncomfortably foreign that you feel disconnected from the regular rhythm of life.
This blog is about recognizing feelings like this. But it is also about positivity. Positivity as an outlook changes you, because you notice the beauty in sadness, and turn that around to create a space of only real, unadulterated happiness. With that, here are my thoughts on taking loneliness to another level, where it is striking, it is to be embraced, and it is to be turned into something else entirely.
1. Everyone needs to wallow sometimes. Humans need to be self-indulgent. Loneliness in itself has a special kind of beauty. It’s oddly romantic, that wistfulness and yearning. Feel free to enjoy that for a while. It can even spur you to create. Honestly I like putting myself there, because it is when I feel the most, and where my thoughts can take a poignant shape for things like fiction or song covers.
2. But instead of staying in that negative place for too long, to the point where you start to believe it, know when to pull back. Know at which point you need to go watch a parody on Youtube or leave the house to surround yourself with outside life. Or just go to sleep. A lot of the time I’m just tired or cranky. The dawn of a new day can make yesterday’s problems seem ridiculously insignificant.
3. Eventually I think we need to come to grips with what loneliness represents – the fact that perhaps another person’s soul can never connect completely with yours. I don’t know if this is true or not, but I don’t believe it is necessarily a bad thing. Yes, it does make you feel utterly alone in some respects. In many. In most. Speech, song or art doesn’t convey a person’s soul – not really. Not in its entirety.
But if you look at it from a different perspective, well, the one person you will always be connected to is yourself. You will always know you. So if you’ve been left alone, well, you have yourself to keep you company. Think about it. You’re pretty interesting. Why rely on the presence of somebody else or many somebody elses to determine your level of happiness? If we realize that we can always count on ourselves, loneliness would effectively be eradicated. We would continue to desire others, because humans do like company. I’m not advocating a hermitical lifestyle. But just that you should get to decide if you’re feeling good. Actively decide to love yourself.
Frankly, I like spending time with myself. Peaceful solitude is something I seek. But of course, that’s not the same thing as loneliness. Yet by experiencing loneliness, and realizing that it is an internal feeling, you have the power to turn it into peaceful solitude any time you like. If it is internal, well, don’t you have the power to change it any time you want to? it doesn’t exist outside of your mind. A feeling is not who you are. A feeling is something that can pass, and something that can be utterly yours to control.
4. That peaceful self-time can be immensely productive as well. It’s the perfect chance to develop into a better version of yourself. Take up a new language, do things that your friends aren’t that into. Spend time thinking about who you would like to be.
5. Help somebody. You never know what loneliness is until you see someone down and out with no family, no friends, and no job. Is your situation really that bleak? It will also make you feel better for doing a good deed. I am strongly of the belief that a good deed makes you feel more at peace with yourself. Do a good deed that you want to do, and that fits in with your idea of what living a good life is, because if you take action without believing in it, it will not have the same ring of truth to it.
6. Just go ahead and talk to someone. Find a friend and let them know that you’re feeling lonely, and they’ll help you take your mind off of it. You’re probably not alone. Not really. Maybe they’re feeling lonely too. You don’t have to be all self-improve-y all the time. Friends are actually there for a reason. In the end, yes, you want to be independent, you want to be self-reliant. But you don’t have to get there by ignoring the fact that you have good people who will have your back at every turn.
7. Find someone new to talk to. It may or may not be successful. But it could open you up to new experiences and the way someone else lives their life, which is always interesting. Food for thought.
Loneliness is a universal emotion. There’s nothing wrong with that. Strive to be the best person you can be, but accept that nothing natural is perfect. What natural is, is an embracing of diversity and imperfection. But it shouldn’t rule you, and let you believe that you are worthless in any regard. Take time to affirm yourself, and even let your friends stroke your ego occasionally. Yes, you can master yourself, and your internal experience. Loneliness may be a universal emotion, but an emotion is never a circumstance. Understand that you can control that.