A friend of mine hates being on her own. She’ll phone someone, go out of her way to meet up or chat to people online if she ever finds herself alone. ‘It’s a default now,’ she said. If that’s what she wants, or needs, then that’s her choice, I thought. But I hope she didn’t see my face. Because it was grimacing.
Being alone is underrated. I reckon Al Green was only so tired of it because he was focusing on the fact he’d been dumped, not the fact he had brilliant freedom. When I searched for photos to accompany this post, all that came up were arty shots of teens, gazing at the floor. It made me wanna tell them, you guys, you don’t even know how awesome being alone can be! And also, sepia doesn’t automatically make everything look sad! So I chose this dog who clearly had a dope time, instead.
The joy in being alone comes from the fact you can do what you like without people or things bothering you. You may even come to delight in completing compulsory functions, such as thinking and breathing. They can be mad fun. I live with my boyfriend and two cats (all three of whom I enjoy very much), but I couldn’t do that if I didn’t spend time away from them, too.
Only, it’s not just feline distractors and my boyfriend’s confusing (boring) work-talk that I need to escape now. It’s the burgeoning intensity of modern-life suffocation, too. The new notifications, tube space invaders, frequently changed talking points that you feel like you have to keep up with. We are being asphyxiated by life stuff.
Yes, you can turn your phone off, not go online, avoid public transport. But there will still be the colleague who speaks to you about work when you’ve got your headphones in, eating lunch. There will still be the invention of apps such as Cuddlr (a thing). We are constantly being swarmed by something or someone.
But it needs to stop, for the development of our brains if nothing else. Recent studies show that when we’re alone (genuinely alone. Not on Facebook Messenger. Yes, I see you there in the sidebar), we develop memories more effectively and don’t waste the time thinking about what anyone else is thinking. Ironically, spending time alone makes us feel less closed off from others, and helps us become better at socialising.
My friend still hates being alone. She’d rather be bombarded with messages, updates, conversations, than not. Even on holiday. Each to their own. Although for me, ‘own’ is the operative word. As in, on my own. Leave me there. Thanks.