I did a stupid thing recently - I decided I needed a break from meaningful relationships in my life. Yup, it felt as dumb as it sounds. But I still think I did it for all the right reasons. You see, society said I need to have meaningful relationships as I grow up, so I went ahead and made quite a few of them over time. But for a very long while now, I have felt weirdly hollow; like I was missing something, I almost felt uncomfortable in my own skin. And after quite a few days of thinking, I realised I was missing… well, myself.
Until a few years ago, I loved being alone. It took time and energy to be in a space where I was happy with my own company, but when I got there - it felt empowering! I’d go to the cinema by myself, I’d take myself out for coffee, meals, sunsets, even museums & plays. I loved how my whole time alone depended on me and only me. There was no space for consideration of anyone’s opinion or need or choice in that place. It felt like a very wholesome kind of independence.
But I also remember the looks and lectures I got from my parents and strangers alike. One time, an older woman decided to tell me why I (yes, me, a woman, wearing a crop top) shouldn’t be alone in that area. Another time, my parents grilled me because they thought I was lying to them about being alone and actually was going out with ‘someone special’. Most times, couples and groups of friends looked at me chilling by myself with my book and coffee like I was some kind of an alien. Most of them, in their own language, told me I need to have people around me.
But through it all, there was just one thought in my mind: Is being alone really that bad? Every person wants an important relationship, a partner, a best friend, or at least someone who loves them and cares for them. I understand that it’s a human need. But in this mix of constantly looking for soulmates, when did being alone become such a big taboo?
My personal opinion is that being alone and being satisfied with yourself is a skill that really comes with time and effort, especially in this generation. It needs us to build boundaries, say no, and make immense space for our needs. A skill we lost with the pandemic. This change wasn’t deliberate, but with that feeling of social void and physical loneliness, we realised the importance of relationships and tried our best to stick on to meaningfulness in whatever way possible. It only felt right! But after some time (and 2 more years of lockdown), socialising became such a big go-to that for people like me who had only recently started loving their own company, relationships started getting frustrating and my overdriven brain was pleading for a break, so I took it!
I know you expect me to write about going on a solo trip or deleting Whatsapp and Instagram for 3 months straight right now, but to everyone’s disappointment, that’s not what I did. My way of taking a break was just not being present. I actively didn’t want to listen, talk and/or build anything. I didn’t spend energy or time on meaningfulness, deep conversations and life changing thoughts at all.
And it felt so good!
It was like a very big part of my emotional brain just relaxed after being on overdrive for so long. So what was my conclusion after these days of no empathetic talk, you ask?
My final thought was that the concept of deep connections and meaningfulness is really hyped (especially after the pandemic)! I don’t need to go to parties and social events every weekend but I also don’t have to discuss life, meaning and feelings all the time. Sometimes, you’d want that time to just sit with someone or just by yourself and eat a meal without thinking about partners, things that went wrong at work, feelings and values. Every relationship doesn’t need meaning and connections. Of course, connections are important, but when we stop looking for it everywhere, there is a sense of freedom and relief that’s just hard to find anywhere else.
Plus, at the risk of sounding extremely cliched, it’ll also help you connect with yourself better!
Meet the Author
Sarika believes she has learnt the most about life from talking to people around her - having meaningful conversations, understanding different experiences & perspectives. She also loves sunsets, coffee and cats as much as she loves great conversation. Her research interests are ever-changing and ever-growing: she’s curious about a lot of things but mental health awareness always remains priority. Apart from talking and making an extensive list of things to research, Sarika loves spending her day reading books, baking, learning new skills, and making videos.