Solitude is something our fast-paced, busy-means-successful, selfies-with-friends, culture doesn’t exactly support.
I think it’s important to differentiate between solitude and isolation, especially when it comes to the dialogue surrounding being “in a relationship” vs. “single.” For the many years I was single, I heard a lot of feedback that told me something was wrong with me for being single. Whether it was family members routinely asking if I’ve found anyone special, countless advertisements showing me how happy I’ll be if I could just get an engagement ring, friends feeling bad for me because I’m always the third wheel, or a stranger on the bus telling me she was sorry when I told her I didn’t have a boyfriend. For whatever reason the message single people tend to receive from the world is why are you this way and why aren’t you doing anything about it?
Solitude is important. It’s vital to our health and our ability to process what is going on in our lives, understand how we feel about situations, and make informed, mature decisions for ourselves. Solitude grants us peace. It strengthens our independence. We become the best possible version of our individual selves. We know who we are when we are alone.
The difference between solitude and isolation is the root of the choice you are making.
Isolation is a choice to withdraw rooted in negative emotions and motives. It usually draws from a place of depression, a lack of self-worth, insecurities, the fear of being hurt, or not feeling worthy of love.
Isolation disconnects you from the world. Solitude connects you.
It is okay to choose solitude. To thrive in your own being and not need to be in a relationship. I know the external voices (and sometimes your own insecurities) will try to tell you otherwise, but there is nothing wrong with you if you are single.
Repeat after me: being part of a “we” does not always cure loneliness.
In fact, being in a relationship can sometimes accentuate feelings of loneliness.
If you don’t feel truly known by your significant other, if you aren’t able to speak your thoughts (both positive and negative), if you aren’t able to share insecurities and flaws and fears you will feel lonely. You will feel alone even if you are laying in bed next to a warm body.
When I was single, surrounded by people in couples, I remember envying their connection. I kept wondering, year after year, why I was still single as if being single equated something being wrong with me. But now that I am in a long-term relationship I have seen how it shares equal parts difficulty and complexity. That’s not to say I am not deeply grateful for the love I have found, but what I am saying is fuck anyone who ever told me everything would “fall into place” when I found “the one.” Nothing should ever fall into place and be easy always and forever blah blah blah it is hard work to be honest and true in a romantic relationship. It’s beautiful, but takes rawness. It’s something to be endlessly thankful for, but it takes a lot of emotion.
That all being said, I hope you know in your heart that you need to stop listening to the voices that say you should be living your life a certain way. Because no matter where you go, there you’ll be. You will still carry the same weirdness, confusion, excitement, passion, and uniqueness whether you are in a “we” or a “me.”
If you want to be single, be single. Be the best goddamn single person ever (see Taylor Swift circa 2013 – 2015 for tips on how to rock the single life).
If you want to seek a romantic relationship, take those first scary steps whatever they may be.
But stop telling yourself you should be anything else other than who you are. STOP.