Whether choosing to be single forever, or moving out from a toxic household, there are people who want and are willing to live alone.
Especially since the pandemic, some people find that solitude comforting, and living all alone is not as bad as they thought it would be, and are interested to live that life moving forward.
I came across this video from Einzelgänger this morning:
Definitely a lot of things strike a chord to me, especially as someone who has been living alone almost her entire life. And I don’t mean romantic-wise only.
I’m an only child, which means I’m usually left alone as my parents work. I learned how to entertain myself from a very young age. I used to come back from school all alone since my parents worked into the nights; managing house chores, homework, and having some fun all on my own. Like, I remember I would blast some music and dance like nobody’s watching, because nobody indeed is watching.
Social-wise, I never fit into any friend groups. I was more comfortable riding solo throughout my teen years, while still enjoying interacting with my classmates whenever I can.
As I went through my university years, I struggled with social anxiety a lot, which isolates me more from other people. And especially due to I was so used to being alone, I had a hard time reaching out to people when I need help. It was at that moment I realized the importance if relationship with other people.
At the moment, I’m learning the balance between being in solitude for a healthy amount of time, and socializing & connecting with other people when I need to.
So, safe to say, I learned the joy and the pain of being in between those two extremes. Thus, allow me to put some things being said in the Einzelgänger’s video into perspective. A perspective of balance, like a third side of a coin, bridging between the two opposing sides.
1. The world is not ideal.
The video starts with the story of fishes hurdling together in a dried-up lake to stay surviving. They smeared each other with slime & exchanged saliva. This analogy is expanded with how humans come together to go through tough time, such as war, or even the pandemic.
But wouldn’t it be better if the lake is full, so that the fish weren’t so reliant towards each other? Then they would be able to pursue needs on their own.
Yes, it would be better that way.
But alas, the world is not ideal.
No matter how much we think we can be left alone, no matter how many things we believe we can do alone, there’s always traces of other people in everything that we do.
The clothes that I wear, there are people extracting the raw materials of the fabric, there are people turning that raw material into fabric. There are people sewing the fabric to become clothes. My guess is it’s made in China, so there’s people shipping the clothes to Malaysia. Then in Malaysia, there are people selling the clothes. Only when I step out of my house, go shopping for those clothes, only by then the clothes come onto my hands.
It’s a bit naïve to say I get these clothes all on my own, no?
Humans are interconnected. Our needs overlaps with each other, and our interactions interwoven to produce this ecosystem that satisfies everyone’s needs. While it is ideal to fulfil every need on our own, the reality is we cannot do that.
And fret not, there are no such thing as ideal connecting community as well.
No matter how we feel secure in a well-knit community, we won’t 100% agree with all of the values of said community. No matter how good the people are, we cannot spend time with other people 24/7. No matter how much our similarities are, there will always be disagreements and clashes in opinions. No matter how much we want to conform, there are times where we need to stand our ground, which may differ from theirs.
See? The world is not ideal. Imperfections shows up, and it’s up to us on how do we handle them. Because to run away from imperfections is impossible, as there’s nothing in this world that is perfect.
2. Do we REALLY choose what we want to do when being left alone?
Einzelgänger argues that when humans are being left alone, they are free to pursue whatever they want.
We all commit to something. We all, choose to devote to something.
When left to our own devices, we might think that our choice is autonomous, free from other external influences. But in reality, we all have biases. How we grow up, the friends that we choose, the jobs that we have, all of these affect our beliefs and our desires.
The foolproof way of excluding all external pressures, is to submit oneself to the ultimate truth. Then, whatever you choose, although there are traces of others’ influences, will stay on the path of the truth.
You cannot choose to not devote or submit yourself to anything, because your heart & soul are not meant to do that.
3. Socializing is a need, NOT an option.
Einzelgänger argues that once humans have become self-reliant, socializing will be an option, not a necessity.
The thing is, humans are social creatures, thus we will always have the need to connect with people, no matter what we replace that need with.
Even with the extreme case they bought in, where AI & robots will replace the need of a spouse, that does not negate the fact. In fact, it strengthens it even more. In the world where human interactions are unnecessary, we humans choose to replicate it in the closest way to human as possible. Ironic, isn’t it?
In this case, the only reason we’re not choosing actual humans, is because we don’t want to deal with the consequences; the disagreements, the arguments, the awkward things, etc.
No matter how we try to avoid it, we cannot escape from people’s imperfections, because nobody is perfect. Might as well learn how to manage them.
Handling those mishaps are skills; relationship skills. We’re not born with them, it’s something that we learn, and will continue to learn. People will have varying mastery of these skills, thus it is up to us to continuously learn and grow to improve the quality of our relationship. These skills will make our relationship strong; not despite of it, in fact because of it.
Because if you don’t learn how to deal with the bad sides, you’ll never get to deal with the good sides either.
4. Needing is not the same as being desperate.
We need relationships with other people such as friends, families, and romantic partners. When these needs aren’t fulfilled, they will manifest in a lot of issues in our lives.
That is a normal thing that happens.
It does not mean you’re desperate, or needy.
Acknowledging one’s need is not the same as being desperate for it.
As we learn to navigate those issues solo, also arrange on how we can actually fulfil those needs, with the right kind of people. Yes, being alone is better than being with the wrong people, so don’t rush yourself that you will find the right one in a short period of time. It just doesn’t mean you have to give up entirely either.
Continuous reflection will benefit you throughout your journey. It will make you a better person from time to time. So even if we’re destined for no one, it does not mean a loss for us as well.
5. Disagreements does not mean out of community totally.
Isn’t it better to live alone than having to conform to what we believe is wrong?
Well, believe it or not, you don’t have to conform, yet still be in a community.
Yes, you’re gonna stick out like a sore thumb. And it that moment, you need to remind yourself you don’t need anyone’s approval for you to be happy.
But all of these can happen, within the realm of community, not out of it.
Communities, as well-knitted as they may be, has mechanisms to accommodate the odd one. While you may disagree with a large number of people, very few of them will retaliate back. The majority of them, will be on the sideline, watching and observing you, while contemplating silently on their own.
The truth will prevail. If you’re the right side, you will stand out first, but slowly others will join you as well.
So… should you live alone?
I could not be more uninterested in people’s personal life choices. Do what you believe is best for you.
I’m more interested in people learning how to balance the ever-switching needs according to the situation; between being alone and being in a community.
The key is balance.
People have varying disposition of companionship, and that is further expanded by how we are brought up. Like me for example, growing up as an only child, and learning that the truth beats the number, make me an adult who enjoys solitude, and won’t tolerate injustice and those who won’t commit to the truth.
But that caused me loneliness and social anxiety. So I’m now currently learning on what type of companionship & socialization works the best for me, to overcome my problem, and be a better person in general.
The world is not perfect.
Might as well learn to get the best of both worlds.