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Alone, but not Lonely


Each week, for one of my education classes, I get to read a different Young Adult book and think about the themes it offers to growing youth.  This week’s book, Into the Wild, is a book that I can barely put down long enough to write this article…

Because of the book, I’ve been thinking a lot about being alone.  And maybe that has a lot to do with my own preference to be alone lately; my pessimistic view towards humanity in general makes it hard to leave my bedroom sometimes, even to greet my own roommates.  Sometimes the desire to seek out new relationships with people is rekindled, but for the most part, fear keeps me sheltered.  Is this a healthy attitude?  There’s an in between area that I desire to achieve.  While interpersonal relationships are valuable, I know that I can’t define myself in terms of how I relate to other people. 

There’s this part of me that thinks people who would rather be alone are pretty narcissistic; someone must think pretty highly of themselves if the one person they want to be around is her own self.  On the other hand, maybe this person is just fed up with being let down, and being alone ensures that she won’t be. 

Being alone, at least spending some time alone, is important.  It offers some reflection on our experience.  Being alone is like a home base, if you will.  It’s a safe place where we can pick ourselves back up if we need to.  And although I know my longing to be alone outweighs being with other people sometimes, I know the value of relationships with other people as well.  In many ways, we need relationships with other people; being a part of someone’s life boosts our self-esteem and we realize our self-worth through our interactions with these people. 

It’s a lonely thought to think that we can only count on ourselves.  I’d like to think that we can trust people the way we can trust ourselves, but I don’t know if it’s entirely possible.  I constantly question what would happen if I lost all my friends.  It’s pretty morbid, I know, but I guess I do it to consider the alternative:  If I lost these people, would I be able to stand on my own?  Most of the time, the answer is no, at least initially.  Then I think about how strong I am when I need to be, when the universe throws me a curve ball.  When the whole world walks out, there would still be me.  

There’s a Paul Baribeau song that I love; he talks about learning to be alone without be lonely.  It really illustrates the whole point of this little rant.  Being alone is vital to help us build a strong relationship with the self.   And being alone is not the same as being lonely.

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