“I want to be my person” The real story behind the quotation


“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?


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21 Comments

Filed under Live with intention, Loneliness, Simply Living, The Tough Stuff

21 responses to ““I want to be my person” The real story behind the quotation

  1. I’m one of those people who loves being with friends & family, but I absolutely need heaps of alone time to recharge. I find that when I’m with people I put so much energy out towards them that a lot of the time I don’t leave enough for myself after.

    Between working part time in a very quiet workplace and being immersed in school for the past eight months & living in a very small centre my winter was really lonely at times – and I think that the best thing that alone time can do is put you face to face with yourself. When you are focusing on you instead of on other people, you have to encourage, police and be silly with yourself- it makes you much more self aware & when you bring that kind of attentiveness and presence to the rest of your life, from friendships to work life, good things happen =)

    • Ah thank you Kyla. Your comment is great. I think that is the point that I need to embrace at this moment, being along and being just fine with it. Taking the time to encourage, police and be silly with myself- as you said. This summer seems so lonely compared to the one’s past where I was always up at school and surrounded by friends. But I think that before I embark on the next chapter I need to really examine myself and be focused and ready. And that will take some alone time.

      I am glad to hear your optimism ringing through the response, it makes me believe that this will be good for me.

      And I think you and I are very similar when it comes to being with friends and family and needing to recharge. There are some days when I just want to be by myself but then I always question if that is normal.

      Best,

      Hannah Katy

  2. I think there’s something very powerful about becoming more self-aware and really living in the moment. It’s freeing to be able to let go of worrying about the past or the future, or validation from others – and just be comfortable by ourselves. I’m trying to learn how to be okay by myself – to not worry so much about what other people think, and just be content in my own skin and abilities and personality. I used to panic whenever I was alone – I felt this urge that I HAD to be surrounded by people, or I wouldn’t watch a movie alone because I “should” be sharing it with someone else. I think as we grow older our need for approval from others lessens, too – I’m definitely working on it :)

    • Oh the “should.” My friend and I just had a conversation about that very word… And how it “should” never be used to describe our feelings.. I used to think the same thing, that I should do this or I should go out… But I think its a daily fight to try to just be happy with what I want to do, be it alone or not.

      Thanks Emily!

      Best,

      Hannah Katy

  3. OG

    In my mind wanting to be alone and being lonely are two very different things. I understand the need for alone time, but I have a hard time with the need to force yourself to be lonely. Afterall, there’s something to be said for the point that it’s our human nature to be social beings, to want interaction.

    I think it’s acceptable to want to be our own person and still want to be with another person. I know I spend a lot of my time internally – I am always thinking about something, or off in some scenario inside my head – so many times I am alone even when I’m surrounded by others. In fact a lot of times I enjoy having somebody else around while I’m off in my own world.

    • Maybe its not so much forcing yourself to be lonely but realizing that its o.k. to feel that way. I think such a stigma is attached to the word and the feeling when really there are so many of us who feel this way. And its not always a bad thing, but if it goes on for a while I think we need to find ways to rid the loneliness or see where the loneliness is stemming from.

      And I too am often off in my own little world. Its not that I am a hobbit or that I hate social interactions ha. Far from it. But I think that sometimes I get so nervous and paranoid to just be alone and by myself and I don’t know why. I need to work on breaking that attachment to communication I guess.

      But I like your point, thank you.

      Best,

      Hannah Katy

  4. Good post:) I think it changes as you get older the need to be accepted becomes much more the underlying fear then being alone. I too liked being alone in fact much of the first part of my life I spent in somewhat solitary exisitence. I used to hike and camp in vast wilderness for weeks. When I was in the military I was in a Special forces unit and operated alone for days, even volunteered for sub duty. I’ve lived in 8 different countries surrounded by people whom I had very little interaction. But as I get older and with love, loss and life we question that continuity with others and as you mentioned fear of not being validated bears a heavier need not be alone

    • Touche. I think you are right. I think validation does play a huge part in it, and I can see where it would start to take more of a toll in growing older. Thanks for commenting!

      Best,

      Hannah Katy

  5. I normally test right on the line between extrovert and introvert. As a intrasocial workforce person, I tend to tip into extrovert a lot.

    And because of that, my introverted side craves to retreat to being alone.

    And people don’t get it. Because they see me as social.

    And I am social.

    But I love, and need, to be alone sometimes. To rely only on me. We all need that, in some way. I think we’ve just lost the art of it, and that’s hard for me sometimes.

    • You and I seem very similar. I am the exact same way. I am a very social person but an introvert at heart and people have a hard time seeing that. I totally feel ya girl. And I think you are correct, the art of being alone has seem to lost some of its touch. But I know I am sticking to it for sure, because its the only way I fully recharge my batteries.

      Glad you stopped by!

      Best,

      Hannah Katy

  6. I’ve always been an introvert, so spending time alone doesn’t bother me. I fill with so much anxiety in social situations that being by myself (or with those closest to me, such as my husband and my parents) seems so much easier. My alone time is when I write and do other hobbies that I enjoy, and it is through these hobbies that I’ve become so much more self-aware. I’ve really gotten to know myself, especially within the last year, and I’ve become more comfortable with who I am. I’ve finally started to understand what I want out of life, and I’ve formed goals in attempts to reach them. Without a lot of “thinking time” to myself, I don’t think I would have ever gotten to this point. And for me, the term “lonely” has sort of changed over the years. Being physically alone doesn’t make me feel lonely; being emotionally alone does. I could be surrounded by hundreds of people and friends and still feel lonely if my husband and my family aren’t there supporting me. (I hope that makes sense… it’s hard to explain I guess!)

    • It totally makes sense. I like the way you define the term “loneliness;” I wish you had written this post because I think you have gripped the point better than I. I guess its an emotional loneliness… because I am surrounded by people but yet something is not clicking. It is hard to stumble over but I think only time can aid it. And I am so happy for you that giving yourself alone time has allowed you to explore yourself as a person. What a great blessing!

      Best,

      Hannah Katy

  7. Hmm… Really interesting post, Hannah. I am a BIG believer in sitting with any emotion you have and really paying it heed, letting it rip you apart or lift you up. My yoga practice is what finally, fully reinforced this thinking—my teachers were always saying how we needed to just be in the moment, feel what we were feeling (pain, discomfort, elation, sadness, joy), and then let it go.

    Easier said than done, of course. :)

    But, for me, I’ve found that the moment I come to grips with something—loneliness, frustration, disappointment, etc.—and REALLY let myself feel it, then inevitably, the next day or the next week, I wake up and realize that I’ve let that emotion go. I’ve moved on. I’m headed down another section of my life’s path. And I’ve come to believe that’s just the way it works—keep company with all those little pieces of your self and your life, until it’s time to pick up and keep moving.

    • So true, Hannah. Thank you for that insight. Jeepers, I am learning so much just by reading all your comments on this. So Good! I often feel the same, that I go to sleep with one emotion and it has seemingly slipped away in the night, which is a great thing if the emotion is a sad or lonely one.

      Thank you for this.

      Best,

      Hannah Katy

  8. Oh gosh, I was lonely for YEARS, years and year I felt like I was walking in a FOG for years. I definitely had ot allow myself to feel those emotions and move through them- i cried a lot, ate a lot and threw things and drove aimlessly for many hours….loneliness does PASS….in time, I promise. take it from someone who’s been there.

    • Thank you for your words of wisdom. I can definitely relate to the tears. I always do feel better after a good cry though. And I am slowly becoming better at feeling the emotions and just accepting them.

      Thank you.

      Best,

      Hannah Katy

  9. I am in a place where I would consider myself lonely at times. I am also in a place where I don’t consider it a bad thing. I leave my phone off, stay at home, and create. Create art. Create a beautiful life. And create space. I don’t want this place of loneliness to last forever but right now I welcome it wholeheartedly. I can tell you two things: 1) Having a loving partner or a million friends does not make one less lonely, lonely is a state of mind. 2) When we feel lonely, we are usually encountering the time before a big shift. The ‘calm’ before the storm. Use the ‘lonely’ time to get ready for something big because it’s coming. It’s always come but now it’s nearer than ever. Embrace your loneliness, go into it and connect with yourself. Beautiful post!

    • That was wonderful insight Holly, thank you so much for that… A big shift- Oh, I certainly feel that coming on. Moving to NY in a few months I feel like its only natural that I feel so lonely right now, especially after just graduating college. But I like the idea of something coming my way… very cool.

      Best,

      Hannah Katy

  10. May I just say I ADORE your new avatar? You’re so lovely! :)

  11. san

    I think the happiest people are the people who can be just by themselves and be completely content.
    If you don’t rely on other people to make you happy, only yourself, you’ll find out who you are and what you really want.
    That’s a good thing!

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