The Art of Being Alone
The Art of Being Alone
In that tiny corner hidden below layers of the brilliant and the mundane — we are all alone
The other day my neighbor was surprised that I have my food alone. Every single meal of the day. I cook and I eat and I wash the dishes. On days I am unwell, physically or mentally (we all have those days, it is normal), I order food and again have it alone.
For a person who has always been surrounded by people, this lady felt I was perhaps having a sorry life of loneliness and boredom. Not to forget, an anti-social life as well. But the truth is anything but this.
I was raised in a joint family with a minimum of 15 people around me on any given day. I have had food on a huge dining table where passing the bowl was a task in itself and spilling water meant few people had to leave their chairs and almost all have to stare down at your incapacity to handle a steel glass. We bounded over food, we gossiped over food, there were fights over food, and then there were “serious adult” conversations over food.
But since childhood, I could hear a tiny part of me talking to me in midst of the chaos. I was part of the ongoing activity and yet conversing with the inner me. The ‘me’ was well aware that these thoughts better be left to me alone. Eventually, I moved out of my family, for studies and then for a job. The kind of freedom that the inner me felt of not being part of constant judgment and cacophony was enormous. There was also a part of me that missed family.
But what I understood is, be it with family, friends, lovers, or colleagues – this tiny little space within me has always been the real me. Talking, understanding, and confiding. What many saw as being lonely, I saw as being on my own… being alone. To date, the best of my work has been conceived and produced (excuse the pun), when I was been alone — on my own.
I have also been asked how come I “manage” being alone. As if managing oneself isn’t something “normal”, isn’t something that should be done. As if managing oneself is like managing triplets… like HOW DO YOU DO IT?
And I will be lying if I say, being with myself has always been a bed of jasmines (no roses for me, please). It has not. Trust me, for most of you being with yourselves is no less of an arduous task. But if you can not enjoy your own company, your own thoughts, your own self – why be disappointed when others find you boring as well?
This brings me to the topic of the Art of Being Alone – Because there might be a lot of science behind it, but practicing this on a daily basis is nothing less than an art. An art that needs time, patience, and effort, irrigated with your tears, and manured with your rotten as well as not-so-rotten thoughts.
What put me on this path is the realization – after several broken relationships – that even the seemingly happiest person is at the end of the day ALONE. As they say, we came into this world alone… and we will leave it alone as well. While I do enjoy company, family, friends… I have experienced that all of them have temporary roles in my life. This also led me into building a more productive, intuitive, and upskilled self.
The first step in this journey is Acceptance. This is not just about accepting people as they are; but also about accepting yourself entirely. Until you do not accept yourself, you can not work on yourself. What I realised is that often accepting ourselves gets tougher than accepting others. But unless we do not accept ourselves completely, we can not move towards the greater goal of self-realization.
The second step is Stepping up for ourselves. There will be days when your entire family will back you up, and then there will be days when your dog might have complete faith in you. The sooner you realise that first and foremost it is for you to step up for things/ ideologies/ values which are dear to you – the easier will be the journey towards being alone. This is in no way an easy process, it might take weeks, months, years, and perhaps your entire lifetime. But you will always end up having your own back. The chances of being disappointed in people will come down drastically, and you will move around with a special aura of confidence.
Appreciating and Enjoying every bit of your day. When you leave yourself alone, the cobwebs of others’ opinions, conditioning, and interpretations clear up to the widening of your own thought process. You learn to appreciate things in a different light. You understand to enjoy everything around you for its intrinsic value. Your intuitions grow stronger and unadulterated.
Only when we are alone, can we find ourselves. Human life which is such a rare gift, needs to be appreciated by appreciating ourselves, and by knowing ourselves. Being alone is a step towards this realisation.
M.A English Language And Literature ( MG University, Kerala )
Final Semester MBA ( Marketing Management, NMIMS )
Digital Marketer With A Cyber Security Solutions Firm, Banglore.