Hello everyone and welcome back to The Fire. Today I’ll be talking about the essence of being alone and loving it. Some folks these days, especially the younger ones with low self-esteem, can’t stand being alone for fear of judgement from peers and a general lack of public acceptance. Once upon a time I used to be such a young person who felt just like this, although I knew it was unhealthy and unrealistic. Random people would sense that I was a bit of a loner based on how many friends I had on Facebook and reject me because of their own insecurities and fears. Although I didn’t have many friends on Facebook, however, I wasn’t really a loner. People had just projected a certain identity onto me and were tremendously upset when I didn’t fulfill that image they had created in their head. For some, people are frightened by things they consider “hard to figure out” and this caused people I interacted with to become abrasive around me.
So I suggest you put on your tweed shrink jackets (a jacket a psychiatrist would wear) and strap in as I tell you my story of learning to love and embrace being alone.
My Popular Phase
During my popular phase (mid-late 2007-2010) I had tons of friends around that seemed to genuinely care about me. Although this would prove to be false in years following. I also was one of the guys who was able to drive to school every now and then: an enviable privilege in high school. It was ok, I guess. I mean people would often use me for my car and befriend me because I was kind of cool at the time. During that time I wasn’t complaining about any perks like that because they were all brand new and nice to have.
I met girls and guys from different local communities and some of the people who’d been my friends for years were starting to like me more as well. At that point in time all I wanted to do was spread love. It seemed as though that’s what everyone was giving me, and me being the mild follower I was at the then, I thought that’s what I ought to do too. However, eventually hard times came and people scattered like roaches when the lights come on. People who would sometimes say to me “hey, don’t be a stranger” were destined to become estranged. One particular hard time was when I had lost my car to the police. Even my closest friends had quietly celebrated my loss.
As time went on I gradually became more and more of a loner. At first it was extremely upsetting. I couldn’t bear to spend so much time alone. I had no idea why everyone had abandoned me and I didn’t want to see myself as being a loser. Even my parents would always criticize how few friends they’d thought I had. My Dad still does this every chance he gets. My sister also called me a loser years ago out of what I perceived to be ignorant jealousy. These are, no doubt, bad memories I have. I used to be so cool and people would treat me like family, but now I felt like everyone hates Chris. So naturally, I was in denial.
Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt. It’s a word that describes people who cannot accept reality. My reality was people did not accept me for who I was and my “friends” weren’t really loyal friends. So on I went living in denial thinking that if I were cool again all this pain would go away. I tried to make new friends, but found that hard to do with my lowered self-esteem. Eventually there would come a series of breakthroughs which would gradually lead me away from the never ending search for social acceptance and lead me to a fulfilling sense of self-acceptance.
Excuse me if I sound like a victim here; I was.
My biggest success to date was bittersweet. It had proven to be a time of door opening possibilities and opportunities as well as astounding envy from basically everyone I knew. At least that’s how I perceived it. I’ll admit that during my highest times my perspective on things was not always accurate. Success can do that to you.
During the most successful time in my life I was more alone than ever. I lived in a one bedroom apartment in a brand new city where I knew no one, and friends were hard to keep. This was due to the reason I mentioned in the first paragraph: Facebook. This success had allowed people to create an ideal image of me they wanted to believe and see in order for them to feel like everything was right in the world. Unfortunately, I didn’t fit into their neat and tidy descriptions or labels and people would quickly grow frustrated with my ambiguity. I would get yelled at for no apparent reason, I got the stink eye from a few colleagues here and there, and I also was harassed by my roommates. All these social mishaps weighed heavily on what was left of my denial and it depressed me. I was also distinctively envied by many family members who wanted me fall.
As I continued to enjoy success the bad feelings got worse. People became worse towards me and I tried to be a good person, but this was not working. Excuse me if I sound like a victim here; I was. I was a victim to profound emotional abuse I had never experienced before from so many unlikely places. Yet all this emotional abuse would eventually make me as strong and wise as I am today. It was during my successful moments I learned to love myself even more and value my solitude.
Self Love: The Final Stage
After the success had reached it height came the final stage of my solitary journey: unconditional self love.
Actually, the success hadn’t reached it’s height just yet, it was just taking new form in different opportunities. As this success continued, after all these lonely years, I began to feel more confident than ever before. This confidence was displayed in a calm demeanor in whatever I did. It was the kind of confidence where I felt damn near invincible because of everything I had gone through and overcome. Not to say things were all perfect; I had no money and a “real” job seemed next to impossible to find, but I kept pushing. Until I finally achieved some of the more modest life goals I had set for myself: making a livable wage working at a desk at a large company. I almost felt like a real adult! I definitely felt like a true success.
It was when I finally reached this point in my life, a point where many of my aspirations had come to fruition while being alone, when this overwhelming sense of calm and wisdom would overtake my soul. I had battled years of depression, setbacks, failures, and abusive people to finally arrive at a place where no one said I would ever be. Let me assure you, there was no greater feeling than that realization. I currently face some setbacks still that I must overcome, but the wiser, smarter and more enduring Isaiah will surely conquer them just as he’s done before.