People are afraid to be alone. They are afraid to do things alone, they are afraid to be seen alone, and being perceived as an outsider is something akin to death. Relying entirely on societal approval, these are the people who want to fit in, and will do anything to fit in, to feed their insecurity.
And their fear of missing out, the new generational cry of “FOMO,” drives them back into the contrived circles of popular culture.
And so I pose the question: what the hell are you so damned scared of? The most absurd and strange thing that people practice is this fear of judgment. This fear is empowering other people, justifying their scrutiny, and it allows them to shape our will and decisions.
Insecurity drives forced extroversion. This generation can't manage to be alone for longer than an hour without feeling like something is wrong and falling into a depression. We're a codependent generation, and cannot find happiness in ourselves alone. We rely on other people to make us happy, and find a correlation between happiness and the amount of people with whom we surround ourselves. And this assumption is fundamentally wrong.
Take social media for example, the sites are a desperate climb for more friends, retweets, followers and likes, and we clamber for attention to prove somehow to the apathetic world how unlonely we are and how much fun we are having.
It's a dick measuring competition with no winner. Everyone is battling from the same rooted insecurity: the exacting fear of loneliness. And we feel if we photograph, hashtag, update and refresh one more time, we might quell that overwhelming anxiety.
We construct an artifice of our lives, and wave it around for others to see. We front our fake happiness to demonstrate our worth in Facebook friends, all the while ostracizing and isolating ourselves from others, magnifying our loneliness. We've become so concerned with our shiny veneer, that we wilt under these masks and lose who we were.
You have no idea who you are anymore. And it's because you never give yourself the time, never hang out by yourself for fear of how it might be construed.
Being popular is overrated. Running in social circles, endlessly nodding hello to a faceless blur of people you barely know, does nothing for yourself, it only makes you feel better – superficially. Being alone is underrated. It might feel awkward at first, not presenting yourself like a show dog, but it creates a self-reliance that sends you strides above the rest, because you can make yourself happy.
Social hierarchy was erected in our adolescence: when the world was a playground, and the elite ruled the jungle gym, the second tier kids looked on from the sandbox and the loners were one man see-sawing.
It was important to distance yourself from these social pariahs, to avoid any unnecessary social disturbances. And these childhood truths have transferred into our present understanding of the world. We fear, more than anything else, not fitting in.
We have been instructed that others make us happy, that we are inherently social creatures, who must structure and arrange our world according to others. We've divested ourselves of individuation and amassed ourselves in cultural paradigms. And conformity breeds stagnation.
The construct of love permits the most universal example. We're conditioned to believe we are halved in this world, and must find someone else to experience true happiness. Love becomes a shield to loneliness and a necessitation rather than a reward.
Relationships are an expectation. Monogamy is a matter of socialization. It's a superficial declaration of unloneliness. In almost every conversation I'm asked why I don't have a girlfriend, as if I'm meant to have a girlfriend at every point in my life – just to appear normal.
Loneliness, or the act of being alone, is underrated. To find yourself, you must sequester yourself. It's a break from the constant social upkeep, to relax your body and mind for the next barrage. It's a deep breath between the stilted social engagements that are only inevitable.
I have been on both sides of the spectrum when it comes to this situation. I have been the most popular guy in the room, and a part of every social circle you can possibly think of, and I have had my alone time. Taking this time to figure out my true self, I can safely say that everything outside of who you are alone is artificial. It's not real and these people don't care about you.
As soon as you seclude yourself, someone else will fill your spot. You will soon realize that in your life, you only have one true friend, the rest are acquaintances who don't care about the real you, only how many “likes” you provide their posts so they don't feel lonely.
And the same people who go through girlfriends like tissue paper, the envy of all men, force themselves to keep someone at their side all the time. The girl who goes from one six-year relationship to the next is guilty of the same thing. Rebound to rebound, too afraid to face themselves in the mirror or turn their phone off for an hour, these people can't cease their preoccupation with loneliness and what's going on outside of them.
At the end of the day, all you have is you. And you're the only person you can rely on, but how can you really depend on yourself when you don't even know you. Maybe it's something to ponder over the weekend, in your mind, not your status update.
I personally love to be alone with my thoughts, because it is way more interesting and creative than hearing someone bitch about their life problems.
Preston Waters | Elite.