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  • michalgregus

THE FEAR OF BEING ALONE



I feel like we live in a world starved for solitude, silence, and privacy….Nowadays, unless we consciously choose to be, we are never really alone. There’s always some kind of noise and nothing is a mystery anymore (and don’t even try covering up lies in the day of social media).

Yet I look around and see that many of us suffer from the fear of finding ourselves alone and in silence. So in exchange, we end up never finding ourselves at all.

I have gone thru my life, for so long, always needing to be surrounded by other people, not only to define me but also to distract me from being alone with myself. I don’t think I realized it until much later, but the fear of what I might discover was so strong that I did everything in my power to never go there.

A while ago, as a part of my distraction, I even started reading self improvement books, and that was a very risky thing to do for someone who was afraid of digging deep and finding out who he really is. Because what those books did, instead of helping me better understand myself, was give me a philosophy that I tried to mimic and take on as my own. Quoting the books I read as my own ideas.

But they weren’t. I was having a revelation every time I read one, and changing my beliefs every time I read a new one. Not being able to wait to share it with everyone, arrogantly thinking I had figured it all out and none of the people I knew might actually have a much better understanding of life than I do. Which was usually the case.

Don’t get me wrong. I do think there’s value and great assistance I found in those books, but not all of their teachings literally applied to me. I think many of the books contain theories and ideas that work for the person who wrote them…very much like this blog post. It’s my experience. And some people might find some of it relatable.

When I finally exhausted and confused myself enough, not really knowing or understanding which theory I actually followed, believed, or was supposed to be quoting. When I realized I knew very little and my cocky “know it all” attitude was nothing but a sham, and felt like I can’t keep this up any longer, feeling so lost and utterly alone, I just curled up into a ball and cried.

I then woke up at 3am the next morning and did something I had never done in my adult life alone. I got in my car, drove far away, and climbed a mountain so I could watch the sun to come out. I had been wanting to do that for so long, but had been so afraid to do it alone. I mean…there wouldn’t be anyone to share it with and talk about how great it is, and how this is the latest thing and everyone is doing it…! But I went and sat there in silence alone. And yes, cried some more. Trying to take deep breaths in between the sobbing. For the first time since I could remember, I could finally hear myself think and feel.

I felt so raw and weird, but I felt like me. And that feeling led me to repeat that experience over and over and over again. Until I learned that we must become so alone, that we withdraw into our innermost self. Sit with it and face all our shit.

Yes, there is some unpleasantness and some suffering. But the fear is then overcome, and we find our true selves. And once we experience it, no matter the circumstance we find ourselves in, we are undisturbed. Because we know who we are and being alone is no longer something we fear, but instead a refuge to recharge and reflect. So we can be better friends, partners, parents, employees and bosses, but most importantly better to ourselves. Because only if we learn to be ok to be alone, we will no longer feel the need to posses others or have them fill our voids, or complete us. We will no longer need someone to “like” us or define us, because we have a clearer understanding of who we are and what we stand for. But none of this can be done or experienced, unless we put our phones down, turn off the TV, take a walk, go away from it all and sit alone in silence.

So I learned not to be afraid of spending some quality time by myself. I embrace it. And to be honest, I actually really love it. It doesn’t matter whether I discover some deeper meaning or not, or have a revelation,  but I ‘steal’ some time and give it freely and exclusively to myself whenever I can. I opt for privacy and solitude. Because I learned that, despite my previous fears, doing it doesn’t make me antisocial or cause me to reject the rest of the world. But it gives me time and space to breathe, come back to myself. And just be me.

© 2020 by Michal Gregus