ALONE VS. LONELY
Why do we crave connection?
“If you were stranded on a deserted island, what’s the one thing you would bring?”. This question is used as an ice breaker when we want to get to know someone. Primarily because it shows us where their priorities lie. Do they care about survival, entertainment, or companionship? Of course life on an abandoned island would be easier with a knife or matches, but what good is surviving if you’re not really living? Thus many people choose to bring along some form of entertainment in order to pass the theoretical time.
While this answer allows us to distract ourselves from our problems, it does nothing to solve them. So the final option, which is usually considered cheating, is to choose companionship i.e. technology to talk to our loved ones or an animal to keep us company. Even though it’s a theoretical scenario, many of us still can’t bear to imagine complete isolation, thus we find a loophole in our answer. But the truth is that there’s a deeper reason why we ask this question. We’re curious as to how people plan to survive on their own. Because in reality not many of us would.
It’s natural to need the presence of other people, otherwise we would go crazy on our own. Besides water, food, and sleep, companionship is the next vital necessity for survival. Without it our bodies feel the side effects –physically and emotionally. Thus depriving ourselves of human contact can be as dangerous as being lost in the desert without a source of water. After enough time has passed we lose our will to continue on. But what creates this need for attachment and togetherness? And why can we still feel isolated from others, even while in the same room as them?
It seems as though we are wired to seek out contact with other people, yet even when we have an interaction it can be unfulfilling. The main purpose of our interactions is connection. But in order to truly connect with someone there needs to be mutual trust, an understanding that our thoughts and feelings are safe with them. This can be a lot to ask, thus many of our connections fall short of our needs. Then we wind up right back where we started -craving connection. So the real issue isn’t the amount of interactions or potential connections, but the quality and depth they hold.
We don’t have to be alone to feel lonely. It doesn’t matter how many people surround us, if we don’t feel a genuine connection to anyone it’s the same as being left alone. Even if we have people in our lives that know and care for us, we can still feel lonely if we don’t think they know the real us. It doesn’t matter what we portray on the outside, it’s how we feel on the inside that really matters. And if we don’t have anyone in our lives that knows, understands, or connects to that person inside of us, then we might always feel alone. We’ve essentially secluded ourselves on our own deserted island.
So it’s up to us to swim from the shallow end and dive deeper into the depths of who we are -and what we want from our interactions with others. We are only as alone as we allow ourselves to be; we can never connect if we don’t open up. While we might feel stranded with only strangers in sight -like the relationship pond has dried up- there’s still oceans of interactions and potential connections to explore. Imagine discovering a mutual connection which digs deep into our depths, that sees and accepts who we’ve always been. We are bound to come across individuals whose presence allows us to be our authentic selves with ease.
There’s always a choice to connect beyond the surface of who we are. Talking about topics that terrify or thrill us is what teaches us about our true self -and theirs. This is what brings us together. Then when the flicker of familiarity begins to burn bright, we know that the connection is genuine. True friendship allows us to be free -for you to be you and me to be me. We can be alone together or united a part, as long as we appreciate the true nature of our hearts.
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