For most of my life, I believe in the power of solitude. I hold on to the “just me” way of life, internalizing everything that happened to me without ever expressing it to anybody. The “just me” way of life follows the rule that if I keep everything to myself, I would be safe. If I don’t trust other people, I will not be betrayed. If I don’t depend on others, I can never be disappointed. If I withhold love, I will not be heartbroken. The vulnerabilities that come with being seen and judged by people who most likely only know a small part of myself scares me. Therefore, I have been building walls to protect myself from that unwanted attention.
Looking back at my childhood, I’m aware that I have not always been this way. There was a period in my life where I am free to do whatever I wish, not afraid of being honest to anyone. I was an unusual child, and it never bothered me in the slightest that I can be quite unconventional in the way I think, talk, or act. I was very passionate about a lot of things—my eyes filled with curiosity at anything I found interesting, but most importantly, I was innocent. I thought letting myself be the way I want to be is a mistake. My carefree personality costs me years of insecurity and self-deprecation. I was hit by the realization that not everyone is going to like who I am, but it doesn’t stop me from constantly searching for external validation (if anything, it encourages me to). I build a coping mechanism of holding myself back and shrinking myself, molding myself into the shape of a person that everyone around me expects me to be. I keep everything that is out of the ordinary to myself. It is only me who can see my true form. Slowly, I become nothing but a spectator in my own life, peeking through the small hole left on the secure walls I have built.
This is why I have grown accustomed to a solitary life. It seems pathetic to think about (and after some reflections that happen a few paragraphs after this, I do acknowledge that it is in fact pathetic), but I find myself liking it. It’s like existing in a world where no rules nor standards will ever dictate how worthy you are as a person. Not only that, you can be the person you have always yearned to be. The best way for me to get into “solitude” is to be in my bedroom, alone, listening to music through my headphones before entering my world of imagination. Existing in a confined space that is completely mine, blocking anything that exists outside of it, keeping everything to myself—this is where I truly feel safe and secure. And as you can see, I am very much alone.
The isolation that comes with the ongoing pandemic, if anything, should not be a major obstacle for me and even become an excuse to keep my solitary life going. What I wasn’t expecting is for it to become the very turning point of my life when I realize that what I have been doing is self-destructive and makes up 75% of the reasons why I am deeply unsatisfied with the state of my life. I would be lying if I said a part of me was happy that I get to use this as an excuse to be in my “solitude” every time. Not only because physical distancing is encouraged, but I also like to see this as a way for me to work on myself, or just another form of self-care where I can be alone. As you can see, it is very easy for me to fall into a spiral where I keep distancing myself—not just physically but also emotionally.
My friendships decay as we grew apart, and my ex-friends get to keep their own friends who spend time with them, unlike someone *cough* else they know. My mental health, instead of getting better as I want it to be, is getting worse compared to when I lived the slightly stable life I used to have. This probably doesn’t come off as a surprise to you, but it surely is a surprise for me.
I am not saying that it’s wrong to like being alone by yourself because a part of me still thinks the same way. But even during all the years I have protected myself from judgments and rejections, I have to admit that there is always a small part deep inside me that yearns to be seen. While it is true that letting myself be vulnerable to just everybody brings me unwanted attention that often makes me uncomfortable, I like to fantasize about the possibility of being accepted by someone who has seen me for who I am, and this fantasy is what brings me hope and makes me feel worthy of love and acceptance. This fantasy is also probably a manifestation of the social creature in me; that despite everything, I will always have the need to trust someone, to love someone, to care for, and depend on someone. However much I like to justify my tendency to keep everything to myself, ignoring this social need will not get me anywhere in life, and no amount of isolation can bring me the satisfaction in living my life the way I used to do.