It’s nice to have a family that cares and supports you, a tight group of friends with which you share your interests and passions, a partner that is willing to spend their life with you, no matter what. It is nice. Maybe even more than nice. To some it’s as essential as the air they breathe, while to others, human interaction is merely a daily duty to complete just to get on with the day. Although many forget to remember it, we are in the end all human beings, and as such we are by definition social intelligent beings. That means that we need to be surrounded with other people during our life and that in most cases, we depend on others. That is true, both at the biological and social level, because in fact no single person (or very, very few) can provide all the food and resources needed to survive and if put in isolation anyone (or almost, almost everyone) will eventually either go crazy or feel the irresistible urge to go back to society.

Given all of these preliminary foundations, we now need to analyze in a deeper way how each and everyone of us lives our lives. Here is where in my opinion different perspectives help us reach a higher level of understanding of the way we think and behave. First of all think of you interacting with other people; coworkers, peers, relatives, friends, the so famous significant other. Think of yourself talking to them, using your hands in ways to describe your actions, nodding to agree, slightly closing your eyes to seem like you’re focusing on what they’re saying and paying attention. Done? Ok, so you might agree with me saying that you, in fact, are not alone in that moment, you are with someone else. Well for as much as it might seem true, it isn’t. You are actually all alone. It’s just you inside your head. It’s just you thinking of what you will say next, of how you will change your posture to meet the demands of the conversation, of when to stop the conversation and why. It’s you that has control over it, only you in your head, all alone.

We can think of many other cases in which we effectively are in company, but are all alone with ourselves. At social events, such as parties, dances, reunions, conferences. During these occasions I every once in a while step back from reality and really examine my surroundings. I have people in every direction, I see them talking to one another, getting a drink from the counter, casually checking their phone to not show their discomfort. And by doing this mental step back I realize how I am not depending from anyone else, how I am truly myself, living my own life. There will be people that will come in it for a quick peak, saying hi how are you and nice to meet you, and others will stay for longer, asking why are you upset or if you would like to go see a movie sometime, because it’s been a while since we last saw each other. These people are an important part of life, they often shape who we are and how we think.

It is exactly this fact of having other people in our lives that enable us to be alone with ourselves. By saying alone, I am not attributing it to a negative connotation, as in forgotten, helpless or unwanted. I mean it as a way of feeling fulfilled, independent to make your own choices, aware of your surroundings and making the best of every moment. Think deeper. In the end, when we all die, we’re alone. It’s just us, ourselves, our thoughts and our beliefs. We surely will have people by our side, but it will be us, ultimately, to say our last goodbye to life, with no one living the same experience as we are in that moment. It is this sense of maturity that enables us to realize that inner solitude is something to aim to reach, as it opens our eyes to a new reality, a new way of living.

So remember, for as we all are social beings and we share experiences and emotions with others, we still are alone with ourselves. And it’s exactly the acceptance of that fact that will enable us to live our life independently, fully recognizing our capacity to make decisions and our potential to grow and prosper.

CS student @ UWaterloo && World Traveller