“When I get lonely these days, I think: So BE lonely, Liz. Learn your way around loneliness. Make a map of it. Sit with it, for once in your life. Welcome to the human experience. But never again use another person’s body or emotions as a scratching post for your own unfulfilled yearnings.” Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love
I was once comfortably comfortable with being alone.
I used to play hide-and-seek only to be hidden and never to be sought. I would stay holed up in my bedroom for hours creating, drawing and conjuring characters and story lines. I never wanted to play with the other neighborhood kids. My mom nearly had to force me to call my boyfriends to let them know that I was alive and well and that I just preferred doing my own thing to sharing my day with them.
When we say, “I want to be by myself,” someone always thinks there is something wrong. Instantly. It’s as if it is not acceptable to want to be alone in today’s world. With all the routes of communication that surround us, why be alone when we can be connected? Constantly. Twenty. Four. Seven.
The post “I want to be my person,” was never intended to be that way. It ended up becoming a tale of validation instead of its true purpose to reflect a conversation with a good friend a few weeks back. Knees Tucked Under Themselves. In Her Car. Sharing Life Like A Juicy Secret At A Slumber Party. We were discussing how we all just want someone to talk to. We are never content with loneliness. We seek someone to receive our good days, our bad days and our mediocre to-do lists throughout the day. Usually someone of the opposite sex.
Her response was, “I want to be my person.” That person that we can each rely on. That person that is comfortable with going about the day by herself. Not Needing To Dole Out Her Day To Other People. For Some Kind Of Validation. Pat On The Back. Support.
But that is far from easy. It is no piece of cake, for lack of a better cliché, to just be alone. For a week. A Day. Or Even An Hour. It seems like the days that I try I end up becoming bored and seeking out that conversation. I simply need to throw out a quick message into the world and receive an instant friend back. Someone To Talk To. Someone To Show Me I Am Not Alone.
I find myself crying out to be lonely. In The Way That I Once Was. I want to take “loneliness” and twist and tweak it into a good word, an acceptable word, a word we want on our team. I want to make it o.k. to say, “I am lonely today,” and people will nod their head and say “Oh yes, I had one of those days on Monday.” And it would o.k.
Because I wonder what it would mean to be lonely for a little while. To not seek out those conversations and lines of instant communication. To go about a few days by myself. What would I find if I forced myself to be my best friend? If I did not have to text my friends to help with decision-making? To ask someone for their opinion. Would I embrace a new kind of independence? Would I make more time for the right conversations, the meaningful ones, the ones I don’t carry on while I am doing ten thousand other tasks?
And I am learning the hard way that even if we surround ourselves with people and bombard our screens with several dialogues, that Loneliness will still arrive and seep into the conversations and be loud and boisterous and gawk in our faces. Because my loneliness wants to be acknowledged, it wants to be questioned and it wants to say, “How would you like to replace me? Be Real. Be True. Be Honest. Figure out how you want to replace me for something else. But here is the catch: You need to be alone first to figure it out.”
And who knows what we would find if we allowed ourselves that loneliness in each day as if it were just as essential as our multivitamins. If we shut ourselves off from the rest of the world to be our own person. To Be Independent. To Be Comfortably Comfortable With Being Alone.
Any tips from those who understand loneliness enough to let it in?