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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

question of the weekend: Do you have trouble being alone?

Walking alone by al-fahad515

I know I’m weird, but the first thing that popped into my head when I saw the headline of an an essay at Salon this week was, Really? People need to be told how to do this?

The essay is entitled “How to Be Alone” — and though I know intellectually that many, perhaps most, people don’t like to be alone, I still found myself marvelling at Tracy Clark-Flory’s piece, because I don’t recognize myself in it at all. Some excerpts:

“The fear of public speaking is a mere tickle in comparison to the seismic ripples of horror that reverberate through the heart when faced with spending the weekend alone,” says [Judy] Ford [the author of “Single: The Art of Being Satisfied, Fulfilled and Independent”]. “People are more courageous about going to the dentist than they are about eating in a restaurant alone.” That’s true for young as well as old: Many seniors feel lonely “because they have not developed their inner life,” she says.

As for making the most of whatever degree of aloneness that you have — whether it’s being a bachelor or living in a new town with no friends — [Gretchen Rubin, author of “The Happiness Project”] says, “You don’t wait for circumstances to change in order to have the life that you want. If you want to go to France, don’t think, ‘Oh, as soon as I have a boyfriend I’ll go to France’ or ‘As soon as I get married I’ll fix up my apartment.’ Have the life that you want as much as you can now.” That’s instead of putting your life on hold, or living in ignorance of what you do have: “It’s things like electricity, the minute your electricity goes out you’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, if only I had electricity I’d be so happy!’ But it’s not like we walk around in an ecstasy every day over electricity.”

Not having an inner life? Not being able to eat alone in a restaurant? I cannot imagine such things! What do people think about who don’t have an inner life?

I find that people tend to conflate the concepts of alone and lonely, which aren’t at all the same things for me… but maybe they are for a lot of people.
Do you have trouble being alone? If you do, how do you cope with it? If you don’t, do you find that people are surprised to learn that about you?

(The photo above is “Walking alone” by al-fahad515 on deviantArt.)

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD/QOTW, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTW sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)

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