Solitude is not the answer to every relationship problem.
The crux of the modern day self-help pocket books on relationships boils down to — Stop chasing! Be comfortable on your own. There is no void that anyone can fill. You are your own unicorn and once you learn how to embrace your solitude, the world will turn into marshmallow park of rainbow candies and chocolate fountains.
I think some of that is crap. No wait, I’m pretty sure it is.
The void is real — as real as the racist graffiti sprayed on the walls of downtown Manhattan.
Solitude is good, a bit too forced for anyone’s liking.
The trouble is not that we don’t know how to be alone. In fact, I know it too well and I am okay with it. I have spent a week living alone in a remote cottage in jungle, 10 days in a silent meditation retreat and do not mind spending days with minimal conversations.
I think the real trouble is — We don’t know how to be ‘me’ when we are with others.
And that is what twists us up in anxiety in most forms of any company. Before we know, we start to blend in the shades of the other person. The extrovert talkative types make me want to overshare before I feel ready. The detached ones make me start talking about consciousness, and solo travels in no time. I can go on and on about yoga, meditation, books on Buddhism, how Hindu text of Gita is the basis of all cool sci-fi movies, what is the problem with consumerism and so on.
Depending on the company, I have both embraced feminism and thought it is not fair to label such a feeling. Depending on the company, my political and social views have jumped from left to right and then center.
We agree too soon because we are desperate to avoid conflicts. Our fluid opinions start meandering on the common ground we can find with the other person and in no time, we find ourselves tired because we do not recognize who we are anymore. If this is what it takes to be with others, then we are better on our own.
I wish we were taught the skills of expressing ourselves better in school. I wish we were taught how to disagree without coming across as a douchebag. The problem is once we have stated an opinion, we feel obliged to defend it even if we did not even care about it very much in the first place. While every other sentence might start from ‘I think’, the truth is we have forgotten how to have any original thought a long, long time ago.
We are all a rehashed version of our news feeds and reads.
I wish we could feel comfortable in our skin. I wish we could feel our skin to begin with. That would make us less fuzzy and understand ourselves better. The problem is we try to understand others before we have understood ourselves. And when everyone is doing the same, it is hard to be in touch with the authentic self of anybody. Jeez, it is hard to be in touch with our own raw self when we don’t know what we stand for.
We are bursting on our seams with fake politeness because we don’t want to come across as too demanding. We are tiptoeing around feelings all the time lest we trample anybody else’s. We are too eager to please and fit in, not realizing that in a collective effort to blend in, we have all lost our identities long ago.
We are not wearing masks, we are wearing mirrors so that we can reflect each other, so that we can be someone’s type.
But we have forgotten that a mirror has no identity of its own and what we end up reflecting is someone else’s empty mirror. We are a ghost town of mirror faces who mirror nothing.
Relationship and self-help are few of the biggest genres of online content. The advice is overflowing and every article we read makes us feel dumb. Only if we could do this one thing, we would be able to love and be loved. Sometimes that one thing is ‘learning how to cultivate solitude’, sometimes it is ‘be the person you wish to attract’, sometimes it is ‘raise your standards’. Let us not oversimplify.
Let us remind each other that solo travels are not always fun, solitude is not always the solution, we cannot always ‘attract’, it is hard to be our ‘best self’ all the time and that feelings matter but not always.
There are no stopgap solutions because human beings are not rational animals. What we feel, what we think we feel and what we articulate we feel are three different universes. That applies to every byte on the Internet as well.
But yes, I am trying to find my face back and drop the mirror. And I am trying to find another face. With face comes the voice. Our unique voices. Let us not abandon ourselves when we meet someone and let us help them not abandon their own selves.
Wouldn’t that be better than solitude?