Don’t Fall in the Trap of Individualism

It feels good to have moments of aloofness and get away from people and the baggage that they come from, after a long tiring day at work. You feel me, right?

I am free knowing that I don’t have to be or look a certain way when I am by myself. It is liberating and has a calming effect on me.

The problem arises when I am not able to differentiate between this harmless me-time and loneliness that creeps in insidiously.

I have been extremely fortunate to have grown in a household where I was taught to be independent. It is like a muscle that I have developed over the years with my fair share of hits and misses. If I have to completely honest, I sometimes feel it is also something that is holding me back from having meaningful relationships.

What lies behind a filtered selfie is a life missing out on little joys and trying so hard to run away from a mundane existence. I am not an anti-social media crusader, let’s get this out of the way first. If anything, I post and share a lot of content which I find interesting and myself aligned with. I am not going to swear off of the social media, cell phone or technology that makes my life easy. I am crystal clear about this aspect in my life. Although let’s assess its impact on our lives.

Who called the lone wolf?

The new cool is to call yourself a loner. I really want to have a heart-to-heart chat with these misguided souls. If you think living a life of loner brings you fulfillment then you surely haven’t lived a lonely life.

Just to put things in perspective

  • Do you get constant calls and pings from your mother/father/girlfriend or boyfriend/friend/siblings to ask whether you have had something to eat?
  • Are you reminded by your partner, in one way or the other that you are amazing and they love you?
  • A random message from an acquaintance wishing you good morning.
  • That annoying friend who drags you to a lame party in spite of you mentioning how you would rather sleep in.
  • That friend you always ignore in a group. But they are the first ones you connect with when you have to vent out your frustration.
  • Someone who always has your back.

These are not just random scenarios. If you close your eyes and visualize who fits where, from your pool of people in the above mentioned situations then you might find the rest of the article interesting.

Loneliness has been romanticized and portrayed as this mystical and sexually enticing quality in popular media. Especially in men. Movies like The Bond series, Wolverine, John Rambo, Die Hard, Mission Impossible and the list is pretty long. All the lead men are portrayed the lone wolves who have trouble expressing themselves emotionally. The latest installment of MI tried to move away from the loner narrative for Ethan Hunt. Times are changing, I guess.

The truth of loneliness is ugly. The Wolverine doesn’t exist in real life. In fact, the irony is Hugh Jackman, a true blue Ozzie is committed to his wife and an absolute family man.

After much research, experts have found out that loneliness is a toxic way to live. And it as deadly as smoking or alcoholism. Loneliness leads to poor quality of life, higher levels of depression, anxiety and paranoia.

Talk More, Scroll Less

I have friends who would rather open their eyes and greet their phone screens first thing in the morning. Sadly, I too adopted this habit after much resistance. But a sensible person realises the adverse effects of spending too much time trying to connect with their gadgets than real people.

I kept thinking the older I become, the wiser I turn into. I have boasted so many times, “I prefer mingling less. Because I want to spend my time with fewer people which by the way is not a problem. But, using that as an excuse to isolate myself and spend more time with an Instagram and Twitter account. That’s a huge red flag. Right there, that’s the problem.

If as humans we are not able to look past our differences. And just because this idea could fit in a line, it is not easy to do. We hardly practice this in our lives. I don’want to fool myself, it all starts with, “I can’t connect with this person because we are not on the same page,” or “We are different.” or worse, “I just get irritated when that person is around.”

Knock yourself out of these deeply ingrained prejudices and biases so that you can truly accept people around you as they are and not let the differences in mentality, upbringing, culture become a barrier. It is here that you need empathy.

Of course, one can’t go out of their way and become a people-pleaser. That’s just awful and you are again risking your sanity here. But finding that right balance is the key. That can only be done when you truly want to pull yourself out of this misery.

Think of it like this if you can divert half of your energy that you put in exhausting yourself, mindlessly scrolling through your Twitter/Insta/FB feed, you can form bonds that don’t necessarily have to be deep and meaningful but are there, that’s it.

What’s up?

I think the reason we have become intolerant is because we have stopped interacting.

You are doing yourself a favour by interacting and understanding different viewpoints of people coming from varied backgrounds and by placing them in their cultural context. Do not call it a baggage. That’s a human being for god’s sake. We are all made of beautiful, chaotic and intricate details and summing it all up to some sort of baggage is plain rude and frankly the reason you might be battling with loneliness.

Before you start piling on me for being insensitive, this is not a sweeping statement.

I recently found out I have been battling depression for the past 13 years. Yeah, no kidding, right. I have been assessing my behaviour, going back and forth and I take the partial blame. I made up this false sense of strength, “I can do it on my own,” or “I don’t need anybody”.

Truth is I need help, I need somebody to be by my side. This doesn’t make me weak, It simply makes me human.

Relationships are not transactions

Remember when we were kids and friendships were fun and not transactional? Yeah, those good ol’ times.

Everything has to be beneficial to you. Each relationship has to give back something to you. Isn’t that a messed up way of building relationships? I am with you only because I can benefit from it. Something doesn’t add up to me here.

Why can’t we just be there for each other without calculating if the other person will be of any use to me in future? Why can’t we just be in the moment and enjoy each other’s company. Just be there.

The networking culture has fucked up our ability to bond and connect with people beyond their labels.

I want to talk to that old lady sitting on the bench of a park because I want to. That’s it. No ulterior motive here. Should we start doing this more often?

30’s are amazing, you get to redefine so much that has held you back. For that matter, anytime is a good time to break free from beliefs and ideas that has been stopping you from living your life to its full potential.

You were not given this life to live in the grips of social media and feeding on the fear of missing out, popularly known as FOMO. Each one of us have to deal with our demons and fight off the darkness that is ready to engulf us. That can’t be done in isolation and with smartphones in hand. We need fresh air, clean water, nice people, a dash of warmth, and lots of love, kisses and bear hugs to fight away this monster. Loneliness.

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