It gets lonely.
To carry the weight of the world on your shoulders, to battle terrifying monsters that block your paths, to climb mountain after mountain trying to reach the top – only to return home, with medals hanging around your neck and no one to show them to.
Many dream of being independent, the idea that you can prosper on your own without anyone’s help. That can be both empowering and devastating at the same time. To achieve great things, you must go through great lengths; many confuse this understanding and assume that they would have to go through it alone. But the truth is, you don’t. One does not have to be alone to be independent.
An amazing example of this could be derived from the movie Little Women. We have Jo March, everything an independent woman strives to be: fearless, talented, free and detached from the greatest “inhibitor” of independence- romance. There she was, a woman working day and night against the patriarchy, a story of success achieved alone purely on will power. That is until the loneliness creeps in, the spell wears off and she is but a damsel longing for a companion. In the end, she finds solace in relying on the love of her family and the support of her significant other. This does not strip her off her independence but rather makes her stronger and more motivated in achieving greater feats.
Perhaps you do not even realize it, you think that there is nothing wrong with being self-sufficient. By relying on yourself, you become the hero to your own story.
But for every night you curl up alone at the corner of your bed with silent tears trailing down your cheeks, and for everytime you look away when someone asks if you’re okay; you inch closer to a rabbit hole of loneliness, and once you fall in, it’s an endless abyss engulfing you, erasing you from the Earth’s memory. What if one day you find yourself as a rotting corpse lying in a cold coffin, receiving blank stares from strangers because you were too caught up in your own world to form any meaningful bonds with anyone?
One should not be afraid to be alone, but one should also not hope to be alone.
Achieving independence without loneliness: Identifying the reason for independence.
Some are self-reliant by force as it acts as their defense mechanism against allowing people into their lives. They build sky-high walls to barricade themselves, a shield of self-proclaimed assurance. These barriers are created specifically to repel others from getting too close to them, cutting off any means of emotional connection. The rationality behind this self-isolation lies behind a deeply rooted fear of forming relationships and getting hurt by them. However, such practices will only swallow one into an endless loop of unresolved loneliness. One cannot hope to grow a flower of independence from a seed of insecurity.
There are also some that choose to be alone out of fear of being a burden. This stems from the constant questioning of their self-worth which makes them feel as though they are not worthy to receive help from others. They shy away from people and insist on doing things on their own because they dread coming across as “needy”. As noble as the act portrays itself to be, this lifestyle will devour you in the long-run due to the self-serving nature of it. You worry what others may think of you if you request assistance and would rather suffer silently than to rock the boat. By doing things yourself for the sole purpose of protecting your image and those around you, you lose the value of independence.
And then there are the few who are independent because they thoroughly enjoy it. They embrace who they are as a person and appreciate their own company. They like going out to watch a movie by themselves just as much as they would like going out with other people. There is no constant need to prove to themselves that they are enough on their own, they’ve realized their worth and have no trouble sharing themselves with others.
Notably, there is a stark difference between the first two instances and the last one. The last one is achieved once you let go of the fear of being dependent. Truth to be told, no matter how oversaturated movies and books with strong leading protagonists try to convince us otherwise, we need other people to complete our lives- just not in the way we think. With every connection we make, an invisible string is formed with the person and sooner or later that string will spread out into a safety net. No, the safety net does not help us climb higher in our quest in achieving our personal goals, but your climb will be a peaceful one.
At the end of the day, there is no magic vile to escape loneliness. It’s snugly tucked in the corners of our brain as we go on with our daily lives. There is loneliness in the dark room greeting you when you come home at night and there is also loneliness in a brightly lit cafe with all your friends, listening to a conversation that you are not a part of. With or without company, there will be times when you feel alone in the world, as though it’s you against the world.
Regardless of the circumstance, there is a choice to embrace it, and that, is independence.
By Natasha Maya