“I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself.” ― Charlotte Brontë,
I am never really a sociable person. Back when I was a child, I would lock myself up in my room during family gatherings or I would immediately run upstairs to hide whenever visitors drop by our house. I abhorred family reunions where I was forced to play with cousins I never knew existed. I felt awkward towards hugging relatives I saw for the first time. I loathed spending an entire day for school parties I never really enjoyed. I hated meeting friends of my other friends.
I have always kept my circle small and I like it that way.
“I have to be alone very often. I’d be quite happy if I spent from Saturday night until Monday morning alone in my apartment. That’s how I refuel.” ― Audrey Hepburn
My world was so much smaller back then. I was a child and eventually a teenager who has stayed in the same place for her entire life. I live in a small town of a rural province where everyone knows everyone else. It was never a struggle to just be alone with yourself.
However, moving to college means expanding your horizons. This entails having a bigger world. I enrolled in the University of the Philippines Los Baños, a large campus with thousands of students. By this time, I knew there would be more people in my life.
I found good friends which are mostly my block mates, my classmates, my orgmates, and a very few dorm mates. I went to some social events where I learned to be less awkward in socializing with others and made more friends. I realized it was fun being around people especially when you have the same interests despite differing opinions. I enjoyed the company of my friends who have seen me in my best and worst state.
It was fun having friends and going to social events but I am never really a sociable person. Sometimes, people feel suffocating and even intoxicating. Most days, I would prefer a cup of tea or coffee while I finish my school works in my dorm all by myself. Most nights, I would rather walk alone in the campus while listening to my favorite songs. I love spending Friday nights by myself watching movies until I fall asleep. I love spending weekends alone reading books and sketching whatever.
I love to isolate myself from the world and its people. I embrace the pin-drop silence in my room and the solace it brings along. The more detached I am from the world, the more connected I am to myself. Being alone gives me the time to reflect a lot about my life and this is when I get to know myself better. Alone, I get to uncover my aspirations and how to achieve them as well as my sufferings and how to recover from them. Alone, I get to learn form my past mistakes and look forward to a good future. In a way, this process of being alone rejuvenates my mind and body making me feel whole again. Being alone feels like replenishing the self that has been drained from an entire weekday full jam-packed with school-related work and extracurricular activities.
“I live in that solitude which is painful in youth, but delicious in the years of maturity.” ― Albert Einstein
My teenage years were the time when I felt that I am living the moment. These years are filled with the company of good friends and the wildness of social events with occasional me-time during weekends. However, when I turned 20 this year, I felt like a completely different person. Living in the moment suddenly meant staying indoors with a cup of coffee or tea while reading a good book about history or philosophy. I prefer spending both weekdays and weekends alone than in a social gathering. Suddenly, being 19 feels so far from being 20.
I spent more time alone. I ate alone, grabbed coffee alone, walked alone, and did everything all alone. Being alone, this time, did not simply replenish me but being alone also gave me the sense of independence and control I have over my life. I get to eat wherever I want and not where my friends want. I get to go wherever I want and not where my friends want. I get to think about whatever I want to think about and not what my friends want to talk about. I get to do the things that I really want and not just to submit to peer pressure from my friends.
The more I spent time alone, the more I grow. I get to think for myself and seek knowledge on my own. I have broadened my perspectives in the way I see things. I spent more time reading books and engaging in constant self-reflection. I began to look at the world with more varied lenses which I would not have done had I spent most of my time with the same people having the same viewpoint. Everyday, I read more and more until I reach a certain state of saturation and fulfillment at the same time. Alone, I was not only refueled but also refreshed.
“A man can be himself only so long as he is alone, and if he does not love solitude, he will not love freedom, for it is only when he is alone that he is really free.” – Arthur Schopenhauer
I am never really a sociable person but I enjoyed the company of a few friends. I have kept my circle small and I like it that way. Being alone does not mean burning bridges and shutting out people. Instead, being alone entails finding a breathing space and detoxifying from negativity. Being alone comes the benefits of getting to know more about the self and embracing that person while reflecting on his or her mistakes. Moreover, being alone involves the refueling and refreshing of the mind and body in order to see the world in different brand new eyes.
Solitude has set me free to reflect, rethink, review, and be who I am. I have been replenished of the energy and enthusiasm drained from yesterdays and I have been refreshed of new perspectives. I am savoring my own seclusion as I savor the sweet sense of being with the self – with myself.