I just read a blog entry about the possibility of never finding someone to love and be loved and being good at being alone because we’ve been alone for a while now. Not lonely, just alone.
In a nutshell: The writer, in her 20-something, said that she’s good at being alone. She added that she held people who purport to love her to the highest standard because she held herself to such standards. And that she will settle for nothing less.
This is all good when you’re a 20-something. I’m not advocating any foolhardy notion that we should settle for someone who isn’t good for us. Because what’s worse than feeling lonely when we’re alone is feeling lonely when we’re with somebody.
But the most important part of her entry was at the end, and this is something I wholeheartedly agree with. In my own words without losing the context: We must continue to nurture, love and be happy with ourselves because – alone or not – we’ll be living with what we’ve created within us.
So it was with some apprehension that I continued reading her blog entry because a few years ago, I think I said something similar to “good at being alone”. And how stupid I must’ve sounded then. Time marches on with a tempo that never skips a beat and decisions that felt so right even a year ago can suddenly turn on us. One such decision is “there’ still time so all’s good”.
But time lulls us into thinking we have time but the truth is really the opposite. That’s the one thing we don’t have. When we’re no longer ticking the age box of 25-29, a little bit of panic sets in. That’s when it hits us; time is running out. Running out for what? Everything you want to accomplish I suppose. I guess that’s why they say live like you’re going to die.
And because we’ve been good at being alone so far, we’ll steadfastly continue down the road that says “being alone doesn’t mean I’m lonely” until we realise it’s too late to turn back. But if we’re being really honest, we envy couples and people who have each other. Even if it’s just a tiny tinge of envy. We try to deny this, but we do. Anyone who says otherwise is probably bitter, afraid or has given up on ever finding the elusive love of their life. No thanks to all the disappointments we’ve faced and fear sets in because we don’t want to be hurt over and over again and voila, it becomes a vicious cycle.
Hope -> Hurt -> Disappointment -> Anger -> Fear -> Lonely
And hope is taken away from the equation when we get hurt too many times.
Sometimes we tell ourselves that we rather be alone because we don’t want the bullshit and the disappointments of a relationship OR we tell ourselves that we’ll be let down* by the one we love. That may be true, but what if we do find someone whom we’ll be able to love and tolerate and vice versa?
*Eventually the day will come when we’ll feel that they’ve let us down. That comes with the territory of love and unfound expectations. Or we may let them down. But what’s really important is how we overcome whatever gets thrown at us together. Abuse and betrayal aside, I like to think that everything else can be resolved as a couple. If it’s an abusive relationship, get the f*ck out. If he has cheated on you, get the f*ck out. That isn’t love and we don’t need that. We can love ourselves better.
A few years ago, I was in a phase where I didn’t worry about finding someone special or settling down with babies. I wasn’t one of the girls with a 10-year plan drawn out. There wasn’t any ‘get married by 25 or have kids by 30’ kind of a stress list. I wanted to travel as much as I could, skydive, take up Muay Thai, be healthy, be better at my job, backpack, hike and learn to bake type of a girl.
After a 7-year failed relationship, I knew I had work on myself first. So that’s exactly what I did. I told myself when the time is right, things will fall into place and I’ll meet someone. Well, I’ve met a few “someones” over the 5 years and nursing another heartbreak right now wasn’t part of MY bucket list.
Now I’m slightly worried. Not about having a family right away but at the prospect of being lonely forever. A good book never lets me down but when I wake up at 2 am from a nightmare or a thunderstorm, the loneliness creeps in. And I don’t want that. The fear of being lonely is far more terrible than a heartbreak. And I fear it because I yearn for a family one day. Eventually.
So I don’t want to give up hope. I certainly don’t want to be alone. I don’t want to take hope away from the equation. I want to break that cycle. Hope is a dangerous thing, but apathy and bitterness is poison to the soul. It will linger and eat us from inside. So I’ll learn from my failed relationships, I’ll work on myself and on finding happiness within. And happy naturally attracts the right kind of people.
No one said it’s going to be easy.