Wednesday, June 01, 2005

The Demons of Loneliness

The Demons of Loneliness

Let me touch on the subject of loneliness again. Because I often travel alone, people always ask me if I feel lonely whenever I'm on the road. The truth is, doing things alone is actually not such a big deal to me because I'm a solitary creature by nature and habit. Sometimes I even welcome it. But I do know a lot of people who, unlike me, are quite bothered by loneliness.

I must admit though, this disease called loneliness fascinates me quite a bit. Some people dread being alone, even for a couple of hours. Why is that so? Loneliness has also driven others to do stupid things like plunging themselves into relationships which are clearly doomed from the very beginning. But then again, when you are lonely and depressed, how are you expected to see things clearly? All you wanted was companionship, love and care from another fellow human being, and you latch on desperately to the first person who gives you even the slightest hint of intimacy.

That is why we find people who never stop drifting from one relationship to another because they fear those intervals of loneliness so much. But why is loneliness so difficult to endure? It is not like we are going to die if we are alone. Why can't we learn to see the positive side of it?

When you are alone, you have complete and total freedom. Why not learn to appreciate that? Being alone gives you a lot more time to pursue things that interest you. You don't have to make compromises. Go read that book you've always wanted to read. Pick up a new skill like painting. Go on a backpacking trip. Frequent the gym more often. Visit the art gallery. The list is endless. There are a thousand and one things that one can do. And the best thing is that you only have to be accountable to yourself. Isn't that a great feeling? Why the reckless hurry to get into relationships just because we feel lonely?

One of the problems I see in some people is that once they are in a relationship, they neglect their usual circle friends. They neither nurture existing friendships nor cultivate new ones anymore. So when the relationship ends, they have absolutely no one to talk to. The world seems to have collapsed around them. The loneliness that results can plunge one into great depths of depression. People fear that so much that they'll pay any price--even prolong a bad relationship--to avoid the abyss of loneliness.

Being alone doesn't necessary equate to loneliness. Neither does being in a relationship cures one of loneliness. Loneliness arises from fear and insecurity. We must learn to love both solitude and companionship and find a healthy balance between the two. Only then can we slowly learn to exorcise the demons of loneliness.

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