Loneliness is dangerous — but it’s not the act of being alone itself that causes loneliness. Sure, being alone is the root of the issue; however, it is our minds and thoughts that create loneliness. One can be alone for months on end and not find themselves to be lonely — finding comfort in their own company. When we find ourselves entirely alone it’s easy for our thoughts to drift away — into the past and the probable or improbable future — taking us places where our independence is a burden rather than a source of freedom.
Learning to cherish your solidarity is an important part of life and self-development. Simplification of your life is not complete until you can handle being entirely on your lonesome for weeks on end without having to get back in touch with the constants in your life — the only true constant in your life is you; if you can’t manage to get along with yourself by yourself, then difficulty will follow you throughout life.
I just returned from a short, weeklong trip to Europe. I had some work to take care of and for this reason didn’t do any of the exploring that one would normally do when traveling. My days consisted of visiting notary publics, trade registries and law offices. The rest of the day I spent in the hotel by myself trying to keep myself occupied. I was doing well for the first day or so and then it hit me: I was in an unfamiliar country, with an unfamiliar language, with no friends, no family, no one to turn to for a friendly conversation nor for advice — I was completely and entirely alone.
It’s a scary realization when you are used to being surrounded by familiar faces in a familiar environment. The realization itself is not so heavy — what’s burdensome is dealing with being alone for an extended period of time. You don’t realize how much time you spend talking to those around you until you don’t have anyone around you. I found myself busy running about for the first half of the days and then with too much time on my hands for the rest. I even tried getting to bed as soon as possible just so that I can get some human interaction with a clerk or my lawyer the following morning — of course jetlag wouldn’t allow that to happen.
I didn’t know what to do with myself. I started missing my friends, my family and even my office. My mind started to drift to places that left me feeling miserable. It’s difficult to explain the feeling that comes across you when you are lonely. Not only is your mind affected, so is your body; I was left feeling uncomfortable in my own skin. Then it occurred to me: I am uncomfortable being by myself; I am uncomfortable with my own company.
How could I ever expect to accomplish all that I need to accomplish when I obviously am not able to be productive independently? The road to success is a lonely one. We are forced to give up a lot and forced to live under circumstances that aren’t always pleasant and we are more than often distanced from interaction with those that we consider our confidants. In order to achieve success, we must learn to be content with having our own imaginations as entertainment. We have to accept ourselves as our own best friend and find comfort in our own company.
Being self-reliant, self-dependent, independent is crucial to development as an individual. More than that, I believe it to be extremely important to accept your independence before allowing yourself to rely on another — such as the person you consider to be your partner in life. My belief — as is Kant’s — is that people should not be used as means to an end, but rather as ends in themselves. We may tell others that we love a person because they make us feel special, make us feel comfortable, give us stability, a good time, amazing sex…
We love our partners because we love what it is that they bring to the table; we love how they make us feel and the improvement that they bring to our lives. Kant would argue that this is wrong — I simply believe this to be fact whether or not it is morally acceptable. My point is that all of what I mentioned is mutable and does not last forever. People change and how they make us feel and how they affect our lives changes over time.
This is why we must learn to love the individual purely for the sake of loving them and not for what they bring. We should love them because we love them, because we want to love them and we feel that we need to love them. However, this is not entirely possible unless we are completely independent and self-reliant. Once we begin to rely on the things that others give us — other than love itself — when those variables change or are removed, we will be affected and the way that we feel about said person will change.
When we rely on our partner for stability that goes beyond the presence of love itself, we will blame them for when the stability is shaken. If we are unable to be happy on our lonesome then we are much more likely to blame our relationship for whenever we feel “off.” Whenever our lover feels a need for more independence we will feel offended. Likewise, when we get tired of relying so heavily on our partner — which always happens when they are relied upon too immensely — we are more likely to pack our stuff and hightail it out of there.
We are forced to live life, constantly balancing our need for independence and our need for being accepted into some sort of group. We have a need to be individuals while we need to feel as if we are part of something — that we are not alone. The trick is to always be independent. When you do “join” a group, you must bring to it your individuality. We must all learn to keep our independence and ourselves intact. There will come a time when we either feel a hunger for more freedom or a need for more human interaction.
We will find ourselves to be entirely alone sooner or later and when that time comes if we are not comfortable in our own skin, then we are risking a total breakdown. If we are not independent enough, then we will rely on our lovers for support — support that will only be willingly given finitely. Eventually your partner will get tired of being your shoulder to lean on and will ask for more freedom or you yourself will be hungry to get away and get some ‘personal space.’
A lack of sufficient independence is one of the most prominent relationship killers. It is also the reason that most are unable to achieve the success they dream of. Loneliness can be more than you can handle. A lack of freedom can be more than you can live without.