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I grew up in a typical Punjabi household. 'Loud' was an emotion in itself and there was no such thing as too many people. This one time when, in the middle of a fight, I told my grandmother that I needed some privacy, some space and time on my own, she looked at me as though I were speaking in parseltongue. You may laugh at this but there is a good chance you also don't think.....
I grew up in a typical Punjabi household. 'Loud' was an emotion in itself and there was no such thing as too many people. This one time when, in the middle of a fight, I told my grandmother that I needed some privacy, some space and time on my own, she looked at me as though I were speaking in parseltongue.
You may laugh at this but there is a good chance you also don't think too well of those who want to be alone. A man on a bench in the park, a woman eating lunch by herself in choc-a-bloc restaurant, a boy walking idly on the sidewalk make your heart ache with pity. It's not your fault though. We've grown up in a society where being alone is never understood to be a choice.
We don't understand that there is a difference between loneliness and solitude and we often use them interchangeably. When the chatter of the world is put on mute, a lonely person is driven mad by the hum of his own voice. However, one who has learnt to embrace solitude finds peace in just that. Someone who can truly be alone knows that the world and the people in it are things in themselves and not parts that complete your person.
As you read this, you can picture me typing away as I sit cross-legged on the top of the mountain, while sipping on a tall, cold glass of Zen. Well, truth is far from it! I cannot stay away from my phone. I often annoy the people I love just to get their attention. I seek validation both online and offline and feed to an image that I have created for myself. That makes me like any other person of the new age. That makes me like you. The only difference between you and me then is that I stop myself short when I find myself doing things or reaching out to people only to escape myself.
As a kid, I had always felt trapped in my home. I thought freedom meant all that was away from it and so I did everything in my power to run away. I went to a new city to study, fell head over heals in love with someone and started living with him. It was a near-perfect relationship till it was not. A year on after a difficult breakup, I had to pack my bags and come back home and be with myself. I could have stayed back to work in the same city but the truth was I knew nothing of it without the context of this person. I had run away from my home to build one with another person. Bad mistake. Now I could not live alone.
Ever since, I have learnt to embrace my own being and found myself in the place I was running from. Most people learn to live alone when they move out of home, I learnt this at home. I spent hours reading, walking, just breathing. Nature helped too. The world in all its enormity reminds you of your own silly being. It humbles you. It also opens doors to the enormity inside you. Now I try to reach to it everyday.
Being alone and being okay with it is not something that you just wake up to, it is something that you practice daily, like brushing your teeth. Whether you're an introvert or an extrovert (both of which are such strict dichotomies and hardly hold true at all times), learning be alone will only help in knowing yourself better and in turn help you understand the world better. It will also make you better company.
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