Singletude: A Positive Blog for Singles

Singletude is a positive, supportive singles blog about life choices for the new single majority. It's about dating and relationships, yes, but it's also about the other 90% of your life--family, friends, career, hobbies--and flying solo and sane in this crazy, coupled world. Singletude isn't about denying loneliness. It's about realizing that whether you're single by choice or by circumstance, this single life is your life to live.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Fly Solo: Going on Vacation Alone, Postscript

As I wrapped up my "Fly Solo" series yesterday, I realized that I'd left out one more answer to singles who claim that traveling alone is boring, and this is an important one, I think.

If the prospect of traveling alone sounds dull, uninteresting, or "no fun," maybe you haven't yet learned to enjoy your own company.

We humans are social creatures, there's no denying that. But we all need some time on our own, away from the demands of the daily grind, to recharge, regroup, and listen to our own thoughts. If you're a creative person, this "me time" probably plays an essential role in your productivity, and there's no better place to indulge in it than in exotic surroundings that fire the imagination. Even if you're not the artistic type, these moments alone can be an uninterrupted time to reflect on who you are and where you're going. And there's nothing like the majesty of our natural world or the mystery of its ruins to put our contemporary lives in perspective.

Frankly, how we undertake travel, its hardships and hassles, its demands and revelations, can also teach us a thing or two about ourselves. As fun as vacations are meant to be, they also test our ability to meet organizational, navigational, communicational, and sometimes physical challenges. Thus, a trip can be a growth experience that highlights which skills we've mastered and which could use improvement.

If you can't stand to be alone, if the mere thought of a few days by yourself fills you with unspeakable dread, maybe you need to examine why that is. If you're uncomfortable with your own thoughts, maybe you don't like the direction they're headed in. Perhaps there are things about yourself you'd rather stay buried in the busy-ness of your day-to-day routine.

If that's the case, you could lose yourself in the bustle of Paris or flee to the bleak moonscape of Antarctica and still never outrun the thoughts that haunt you.

How do you use your time alone with yourself? Is it productive? Does it help you gain insight into yourself and/or your direction in life? Are you comfortable being alone?

Fun Link of the Day


Wizardry said...

Now that’s deep. Very deep. And we the students in my AP English class have been going through transcendentalism, so I mean it. “Perhaps there are things about yourself you'd rather stay buried in the busy-ness of your day-to-day routine.” I mean, Elsie, It doesn’t get much better than this. This is real thinking; this is real living. What’s insane though is that so many people get along without ever having these questions make the slightest brush with their mind. Truthfully, I think why so many people prefer to be busy is to escape these questions, like what I said in a lengthy comment earlier: ““Where do I go after death?”; “What is the meaning of life?”; “What am I supposed to achieve while I’m here?”” These questions can be escaped only a few ways. The first, applying oneself into a religion that answers said questions. Second, giving a job, occupation or relationship the title of ‘meaning of life’ thus allowing these said questions to be answered. Third, to apply oneself to so much action, as in work or tasks or ‘living’ so much and so fast that no one has time to think of such questions, much less answer them. That’s why people run as fast as they can. In addition, I think people don’t like the truth of who they are.

When we’re all growing up, as children we’re told how were perfect as we are, and we need only to do our best, and we each have something we’re best at. Its pretty devastating for most people to find out these are all lies. We’re not all perfect, sometimes our best isn’t good enough, and there isn’t always something we’re best at. This truth, for many, can crush them. (I know it did to me at one point). This is such a painful truth because of this psychological phenomena. People want to be needed. While this is more of a male concept, to feel that their partner needs them in a relationship, it’s a basic truth among all people. But to find that the world could get along without you, because you’re an imperfect being (as we all are) who isn’t the best at anything (we may be the best at something within a closed group, but realistically, we aren’t). Because of this, the want to be needed is violated, because we find we are not needed, thus plunging the person into a cycle of despair.

But as Elsie said, “Even if you're not the artistic type, these moments alone can be an uninterrupted time to reflect on who you are and where you're going.” Well for the record, I am the artistic type, but that shouldn’t stop the rest of you. You can find new ideals that will revolutionize the way you think, and while this has obvious use for the artist, it also has a common application for everyone. To find real Truth, not just what’s been given to you. Not just accepting what you see. Like Plato’s cave illustration; the men in the cave see only the shadows of the real world coming in through the entrance that they refuse to turn around and see. Wouldn’t you like to make sure you’re not staring at shadows on the cave wall and missing out on real life in three dimensions and full living color?

Well, no more time for my ramblings, I’ve got to prepare for the Sabbat.

Victoria Gothic

Clever Elsie said...

I think everything you said is true, and I love your reference to the cave analogy.

At some point, I think most people do confront these questions about the purpose of life, and then they're at a crossroads: either you define yourself in relation to life and possibly make drastic changes to do so, or you realize that's too uncomfortable and stuff it back under your work, your hobbies, your possessions, everything you use to distract yourself from what's really important.

In addition, you hit on something that I think is a real problem for American kids and that's what I'll call the culture of self-esteem. Did you know that, again and again, psychologists have failed to prove that self-esteem is correlated with academic or job performance, criminal behavior, or just about any other concrete measure of life achievement? While it's essential to accept yourself and feel good about your own talents and accomplishments, the pop psychology strategy of pumping kids full of inflated ideas about themselves has done nothing but create a generation of young people with huge entitlement issues. Those of us at the upper end of the Millennial spectrum were the first to feel the effects of this, and it's still going strong, as you've seen among your own peers.

It sounds harsh, but I truly believe parents need to STOP telling their kids they can be anything they want to be and start telling them that IF they work hard and are persistent, they'll have a CHANCE to do what they want to do.

You're right that it's a hard blow when kids realize that everyone isn't awestruck by their talents at math or music or baseball, that there are, in fact, kids who are MORE TALENTED than they are. But that's also why I think another fault of modern parenting is the push for every kid to be THE BEST.

The discovery that someone else is better than you at something is only debilitating if you believe there's only room for one at the top. But the fact is that this is a big world, and we don't all have to be THE BEST to be good enough.

Ultimately, I think most people give up these initial fantasies of grandeur and replace them with more realistic views of themselves as competent and talented, if not THE BEST. And that's okay. While we might not matter to the sun, the moon, and the stars, we matter in our community--to our family, our friends, and our coworkers. And I think that's esteem enough (and responsibility enough) for most of us. :)