Creating my happy life on the other side of fear.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Alone

What is your first reaction when you read that word: alone? Do you associate it with loneliness and being scared? Or does it evoke comfortable feelings of precious 'me'-time?

I love me some alone time. Crave it, actually. Going for walks with my dog, listening to a story is one of those alone times that I need. I also enjoy walking with a friend, but it serves a different purpose. Friendships are amazing and heartwarming and precious - but those alone times are rejuvenating for the soul.
There are those quiet mornings alone at home, when Rich isn't there and I have the house to myself: Just a cup of coffee, the day ahead of me, my thoughts and the computer at my fingertips. Love those. So much.

I also love shopping by myself. If I'm really looking for something, either for myself or someone else, I like to be alone. If I'm in the right mindset it can take me hours: Picturing my closet, creating outfits in my mind with the pieces I'm trying on.
Picturing that special person I'm shopping for, imagining how and when they will use the gift I'm buying: If it's something for their home, I try to picture where they could put it. If it's clothing or jewelry, I will in my mind go through the things they like to wear to decide if they might like that piece or not.
You get the picture - I'm a (over-)thinker. But that's part of the fun for me! I can't help it.
Those are the great, treasured, positive aspects of being alone.

However, like everything in life, there is also another side: the dark, scary, lonely aspect of being alone.

I have a feeling that being alone is one of the biggest fears people have. It is deeply ingrained in us, probably from a time when humans couldn't survive on their own. Strength in numbers.

It starts from the moment we are born: Babies cry when they realize they are left alone.
The fear of being alone propels people to get married, or stay in bad relationships. It is one of the reasons people have children, so they will have someone to take care of them when they are old.

We want to create all these guarantees for our life, the promise of people always being there for us to avoid loneliness.
But is it really possible to do that? And why are we so afraid of being alone?
source
That really resonated with me.

Have you ever experienced that? Feeling alone in the midst of people? I have. And it is aweful.
Human relationships can be one of the best things about life. I believe that we are not made for a solitary life - deep down every person craves human companionship.

But at the same time, it is also one of the most difficult things in life. Because dealing with people can be exhausting. And aggravating. There are people that feed off other's problems, and like to create drama, and like to make others feel inferior.

If you find yourself in a group of people that make you feel alone - well, it's just the worst feeling ever. You are sure something must be wrong with you. Why else do you feel left out and isolated?
Over the years I tried different approaches in situations like that*:
1. Fake it and pretend not to notice the crushing feeling of sadness that is threatening to spill out in form of tears: Don't do it. It will make you feel empty and exhausted and terrible. And lonelier than ever before.
2. Try to fit in and "be more like them": Being someone you are not? Didn't work for me, and I gave it the good old college try. I really, really wanted to fit in. And one day I took a good, hard look at myself and realized: I'm not true to myself. I don't like the person I'm becoming. And that was unacceptable.
3. Walk away. That's the approach that was right for me. I realized at some point that one can never be friends with everybody; that's a fact of life. Don't even try. So now I live by the simple rule: If it feels right, stay. If it doesn't, go. No shame in it.

To come back to the fear of ending up alone: I try to remember that we have the opportunity to meet new people every day. Not only when we are young - we don't have to gather up a stockpile of people now for the rest of our lives. There will always be opportunities! So I guess what's important is to keep an open mind and heart. Be kind to yourself and others, be true to yourself, and don't be afraid to spend some time alone.

*Climbing off my soapbox now.*

Love, Miriam

* This and that are my nemesis. I never know when to use which. Can anybody explain it to this German girl please?
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4 comments

  1. I crave alone time.
    When I'm not working, I drop my 4 year old off at her "school", hub is at work, and alone is fabulous.
    Shopping alone is pretty great too!
    When I'm with other people, I feel like I have to hurry to find things.
    Gorgeous pics Miriam!!

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  2. This is such a great topic. I am so glad I found your blog and The Hemborg Wife blog. It is reassuring to know that their are other ladies out there close to my age with similar thoughts and behavior. Like The Hemborg Wife I am an only child (I believe she was one until her teens) and naturally very quiet, while being comfortable enough to entertain myself. Like you I prefer to savior my time alone -I quite enjoy it for the most part- shopping, traveling, fixing meals all by myself are fun for the most part. Like you, I have tried the fake it to you make it approach and the multiple attempts to be like them. It was just over the last couple of years that I realized that the harder I tried to be like them or exert an ungodly amount of time participating in group activities - the worst I felt.

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    Replies
    1. O how fun to see you mention me when I went to comment thank you!

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  3. Shopping alone is my number one favorite thing, I hate shopping with other people and they want to see you in the clothes and help you and blah blah blah!

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