Solitary Soul Seeking
"Happiness is only real when shared" - Christopher McCandless.
Quite confusing coming out from a wanderer who hiked into the Alaskan wilderness hoping to live a period of total solitude. Dear Alexander Supertramp would probably explain himself here but he can't. McCandless' decomposing body was found by hunters in a converted bus near Denali National Park four months after setting off.
The original sentence comes from the extensive biographical book by Jon Krakauer and it goes:
"(...) it turned out only a life similar to the life of those around us, merging with it without a ripple, is genuine life, and that an unshared happiness is not happiness."
If this is true then what was he doing heading solo Into the Wild? I won't go into the details of this brilliant movie and book that you really need to watch and read but aim to simply answer this question: because in order to share it ('happiness') - you first need to have it, to relish it, for yourself.
Myself, I’ve never been extremely wanderlusty. But I find Mr. Supertramp lifestyle particularly comforting these days. Especially during times when I picture myself found naked, dead in my own bed covered in Wotsits, half way through some embarrassing Netflix series (like Girlboss which is surprisingly good, actually).
What togetherness promises is not necessarily a happier life, but when shit hits the fan it's nice to have someone to clean off crumbs of cheesy puffs from your dead chest.
And maybe plant some super intelligent book by my corpse so when they find me nobody could judge my unhealthy interest in Sophia Amorouso's startup shenanigans.
Coming from a big family I wasn't mentally prepared to live on my own but I always loved this concept. When I moved into a one room apartment it felt like owning my life for the first time. And it's true, living alone really is the best.
Even despite being in a relationship I have my spot to myself. It's the best of both worlds, think Mr Big and Carrie Bradshaw. Just replace her collection of Manolo Blahniks with the Miista ones and you'll get the gist.
I've set some rules in my house though. One, actually: pants are off.
I call it butt-naked-after-work routine but all of my exhibitionistic tendencies come unnoticed.
I've been living by myself for 2 years now and there is literally no one to judge my salad bowl made of yesterday pasta mixed with crisps. It seems that heaven is the place on earth with yo self! Imagine, all the disgusting behaviour stays between you and you (covered in coconut oil wrapped in clean film for an overnight body treatment session).
What you're really missing out is the infamous egg mask. It takes couple of entries from the comment section on youtube to notice this is not something you'd explore if you're not living solo:
Yes. What is really worth living alone is a face mask made of fresh egg and toilet paper.
It is so good that it might deter you from moving in with your partner for another year. Such an unexpected beauty / almost a luxury to the freedom of cleansing your pores in the privacy of your own spot.
While I love the freedom of being able to do all the weird stuff, being alone in London otherwise feels wrong and scary. This is usually when I flip out the phone and scroll through the feeds of people that I don't even care about. Making your life really mindful when you're still contacted through Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook is really hard if not impossible. Shockingly / if anything the only real loneliness I'm experiencing is when interacting with the the world through the phone screen.
It would give me a mixture of anxiety and a bad case of FOMO.
We're often unaware of how connected we are with others. According to the report by Common Sense Media, teens now spend up to 9 hours a day on social media interaction. And the majority of that time is on mobile. And these are not even human relationships. It's like being at the gym against your own will. For the outside world you're participating. But despite your sweatpants moves imitating squats you know deep inside that it's just a waste of time you could spend happily under the layer of Wotsits. This is exactly the role of social media. Imitating human interaction, fake exercise to separate yourself from feeling alone. But yes you are. The goal is to have the courage to turn against our habitual lifestyle and engage in unconventional living.
For starters, mindfulness is much more about privacy and reflection than loneliness.
It is in everything and anything we might experience, so you can keep your beloved sweatpants if you want to. Done right mindfulness is excellent for treating depression or addiction, to anxiety, stress reduction, and general pain management. But it will be only suitable for helping those who are willing to confront or expose themselves to difficult feelings. Prepare yourself, it will feel like a first day of a cold turkey rehab.
Come home after a long day and be only with yourself. Don't freak out that nobody is there to ask. It's the least cool thing about living alone but it will force you to rethink your actions, confront yourself. Often we don't want to be alone *mindfully* in order to avoid looking problems straight into the eyes. It's just you and them in one room. Learn to be alone with your thoughts, learn to appreciate that you are responsible for your own happiness. Big words, eh? It's worth it to disconnect from everyone but it doesn't equate to being lonely, being mindful is a whole other thing.
Treat yourself for a fancy dinner or to the movies. What it does is help with getting a fresh perspective like the fact that people does not make your happiness valid.
Multitasking is another thing we all struggle with and need to work on. Why? Because we're too receptive to enjoy just one activity. Ever felt like 'wasting time' while reading a book? Have you ever watched a movie while scrolling through a phone? It's weird how just want to be alone but then if you're left alone you can't stand it.
The solo trip is an experience everyone should try once because you get to know yourself a little better. It can be such an incredible way of exploring different parts of yourself and seeing new places. I discovered my love for Alex Turner and Miso soup. I realised and capitalised on that fact that I could do whatever I put my mind to. Most importantly all those solitary trips hold some of my most treasured memories of when I most felt 'myself'.
So leave the city, nature is best for solitary trips. Being alone in the forest or in the park is a whole other thing. First comes the realisation of insignificance of your daily struggles, then the feeling that we are much bigger than the aesthetics we construct.
If you find out that you're not cut-out for solo travels, that's also fine. It's about taking your chance and finding yourself. Even the biggest loner of all-time Mr Supertramp through kind people came to know about good relationships.
He could not survive, but it was his journey and he did find himself. He was at peace. He knew what he did wrong and what he should do. He wasn't looking for these experiences, but they found him. I think more people need to do what he did instead of believing some false narrative they can't truly enjoy their own company and remain connected to world around them in every possible way.