What’s life like for you when you’re by yourself? How do you fare in those times when you’re feeling lonely or you’re facing your biggest dreams?
We live in a very busy world. The rat race sure is a race, with lots of people getting left behind in the process, and sometimes those who are in it are struggling to keep up. There are a lot of demands for your time, a lot of opportunities to be doing lots of things. Even in the chances you do get for downtime, you can fill it with so much stuff – games, movies, music, coffee, books. But every now and again, there comes a time where it’s just you. No interruptions, no games, no one else around to talk to or to say something to you. It’s in those moments where it’s you at your realest self. How do you fare when you’re alone?
The idea of being alone is quite a confronting one. Lots of music gets published around the thought of isolation – from Taylor Swift to Owl City to the English group Yes and owning their lonely heart. It’s even the central theme of the super popular “Let It Go” from the Disney movie Frozen –
“A kingdom of isolation, and it looks like I’m the queen”
Without life’s distractions and busyness, your deepest thoughts and realities are often present. This usually occurs as you’re heading to bed, or first thing in the morning. For some it happens when you head home and there’s no one else around. Some moments are moments where you force the issue of being alone, and withdraw from others for some breathing room to take stock. And other times you would love to have some company, but sometimes there’s not someone around.
I wonder what goes through your mind when you’re in your realest moments. What are the thoughts that run through your mind when you’re done running?
The thoughts that come when you’re alone can be quite challenging. Sometimes we keep ourselves super busy to avoid having to think of things. Some people drink too much or take some pills to help them forget and avoid thinking. Sometimes you avoid your deepest thoughts because they bring up your stronger feelings.
One of my favourite things about writing online is that I get to talk to people when they’re in their realest place – by themselves. When we’re by ourselves, we read articles and watch things and think things through without a filter. When I talk to people in person, as you do, I’m usually presenting my best, especially with people I don’t know super well. With those I know a bit better, I’ll be quite a bit more open about how things are going, and with my closest friends, they pretty much hear everything. But even then, the deepest thoughts I have usually come in those moments of isolation and being alone.
Unfortunately, in being alone, there can arise a very real challenge in the form of loneliness. It’s fine being by yourself every now and again, but sometimes the silence just reminds us of how we can feel like there’s not that many people we can actually talk to about how we’re doing. Some people feel like they don’t have any people who actually care for them, and that’s a horrible feeling. Some crave companionship in whatever form they can take it. Loneliness is the motivation for many a person’s mistake.
I guess something to be careful of is that we don’t constantly isolate ourselves. A Jewish proverb tells us that “He who isolates himself rages against all sound judgment”. In other words, it’s not a smart idea to cut yourself off completely from others. There are definitely times to take a moment to get away and to have some “me time” during a week, but if you’re constantly filling your schedule with activities away from others or shutting people out of how you’re really feeling, you may not be making the wisest decision. When one falls by himself, there is no one there to support him. Life is so much brighter and more powerful when you invite people in. There are a lot of great people around and a lot of support groups and networks you can get amongst to find some of that friendship and companionship you may be looking for.
You can also feel alone even when surrounded by people. You can be among friends and still feel like a nameless face in the crowd.
And when no one else is around, you can be reminded of that fact.
Alone time is also the place of your deepest dreams. Where the things you want to accomplish in life start to bubble up. It can also be the place of our greatest repression, where we suffocate those thoughts of where we want to be. Because we look at our lives often and wish we were just further ahead. And sometimes those bigger dreams of making a difference or of getting married or of becoming successful have been met with a lot of disappointment and regret. And when you’re alone, those thoughts come into your head of who you want to be, and the frustration of not being where you think you should come around.
When you’re alone, it can be a place of doubt. You doubt your ability. You doubt your calling. You doubt you’ll get what you want. You doubt the deepest dreams in your life and sometimes get to a point of just ignoring their existence. You doubt you’re doing enough. You can even doubt whether you are enough.
Even now, I wonder what’s going through your head as you read this. I wonder where you are and how you’re really feeling.
And I wonder if anyone else besides yourself knows exactly how you’re doing.
It’s a terrible thing to be suffering in silence. Or to be overwhelmed without anyone else being aware of it. Our newspapers and news reports are full of people doing absolutely crazy things for some really big reasons, and too often we hear the story that no one else knew what they were going through.
Does someone else know how you’re really doing?
This is where loneliness actually comes from. People think sometimes the solution is to get married. While marriage is great, there are a lot of married lonely people. Cause while people may have others in their life, their life may not be open to them. The first step of getting rid of loneliness is putting your walls down.
It’s exhausting constantly putting up a face. Looking strong when you’re not feeling strong. Being there for others when you feel like no one is there for you. And sometimes we can be blaming others cause they haven’t barged into our hearts with a crow bar and cut down all the defences to get close to us.
But you’re the one holding the key. The decision to lock others out of our realest thoughts is our own. If you were to allow others in to those deeper places, you would see loneliness dissipate in your life and find your alone time so much less confronting.
And as for our dreams… man. Who can quantify fully the level of love we have for the bigger things in our hearts? We can’t always even put into words the places we want to go. But maybe it helps to try. If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there? Without a target, without a set location, without vision, you live feeling like a rat on a wheel – constantly striving, but never getting to the mystical place you’re supposed to go.
You can know your future. Not all the exact details maybe, but you weren’t born for confusion. You were destined for clarity. You were called for purpose. You can know the hope to which you’ve been called. Never once did you ever walk alone.
Sometimes when you’re alone, you’re afraid of who you really are. The call seems so much bigger than where you’re at. Once again, invite someone in to the dreams. Pray about them – invite God into them. Write them down. Set them in a place where the people can see and run with them. Set them in a place where you can see and run with them.
Let your realest thoughts be thoughts of peace. Your alone time can be a place of great rest and great refreshing for you. Where being alone doesn’t mean you’re lonely. Where thinking your deepest thoughts gets you excited rather than discouraged.
As a man thinks, so he is. You are one fantastic person with one fantastic life. My prayer for you is that when you are alone with your thoughts, even now, you would know the reality of that truth.