Dear reader, what follows is another stream-of-consciousness piece of literary detritus that explores solitude and individuality. As with all such missives, no editing has taken place. What you see presented here is the intellectual effluvia that came forth when I put fingers to keyboard to write. Take from it what you will.
There’s nothing quite like spending part of your day relaxing in the park.
Of course, as it’s November here on this chunk of rock stuck out in the North Atlantic, the weather is decidedly chilly, and just a bit damp. This meant that the park was utterly devoid of people other than myself.
And that’s why I enjoyed myself so much.
I really shouldn’t surprised by this snippet of intel. I’ve always been a solitary soul, from the age of about six, when I would disappear for hours on end with a stack of books and a lunch – my way of dealing with the car accident that claimed my mother’s vision and the life of my dad.
Solitude allowed me time to process how I felt without worrying about social norms or the pitying looks of folks who didn’t know how to approach this strange, quiet and, it must be said, angry and hurt little boy.
The books I threw myself into body and soul provided an escape from the heart-breaking reality I now had to face. Not just fiction, but non-fiction as well. I became obsessed with knowledge, with knowing everything there was to know in the world. Grief and anger gradually shifted to fascination and creativity as I read and read and read.
My social skills no doubt suffered from this self-enforced isolation, but my mother and grandparents, at a loss for how they could help, allowed me to continue as it seemed harmless enough and it made me happy.
I came to believe that I was alone, both physically and emotionally. No one ever REALLY understood me, nor did I understand myself.
I became, as my late-fiancée later nicknamed me, a “lonely satellite.”
Fast forward to today, and I still have an affinity for solitude. When entering a restaurant, I’ll choose the booth as far away from other people as possible. I eschew parties and gatherings for the most part because I always end up feeling socially awkward and wanting to leave soon after arriving, no matter how delightful the company or the conversation.
When I’ve explored this need to be alone, several reasons came to my attention. The easiest (and therefore most suspect) reason was that I was an introverted soul, the type who becomes anxious in social situations. While this is mostly true, I think it goes much deeper than that.
Deep beneath the social-label of “introvert” was a belief that I deserved to be alone (in the worst possible sense of that word). I believed that I was a social misfit, better off as far away from people as possible in order to “protect” them from my particular brand of awkwardness and dreadfulness.
What a load of self-absorbed and self-dramatizing drivel! Self-abuse can sometimes be a form of conceit, and I had it in a bad way. By being the unlovable reject, I succeeded in drawing MORE attention to myself, not less. It’s taken many years, a great deal of soul searching and the help of some truly amazing humans for me to shed much of this nonsense (though it still resurfaces from time to time.)
I now understand that there is a difference between being alone and being lonely. I choose the former, and while I may feel the latter occasionally, I know how to counteract it’s more toxic effects.
I now understand that I am a social misfit… and that this is a gift, not a burden.
When we engage in behaviour that society deems as “strange,” don’t be so quick to punish yourself.
Dig deep and discover WHY you do the things you do. If your thoughts actions come from a place of healthy and positive self-belief, (buttressed by a reverence for life and peace) it may very well be that you’re just fine… it’s society that has it wrong.
Modern society is all about joining in, being part of the crowd. It applauds individuals, while simultaneously viewing them with suspicion and even contempt. We make disparaging remarks like: “She (he) is not a team player,” as if individuality is somehow counterproductive to success.
I started out this piece of literary litter talking about my preference for solitude and I seem to have careened into a discussion of the role individuality in modern society.
The muse does indeed work in mysterious ways.
Let me sum up this way: If you were part of a particular society, and there was a disaster that killed everyone BUT you… that society would not cease to exist. It would simply be a society of one, at least as long as you live.
It’s ok to be alone. It’s not a crime to be an individual, a beautiful anomaly, a carbon-based conglomeration of star stuff who cha-cha’s to the beat of a different tuba player.
Just understand where your individuality comes from, and ensure that it comes from a place of positivity and not negativity.