Solitude lane: indulged into introspection

So you're thinking. You are constantly thinking, which pauses the reality of daily life and you live in your head. Now what is reality and what is non-reality, I do not know. I guess it is different for everyone.

When did contemplating life become such a barrier from living it? I often ponder if all this wondering and questioning is a source of a mental condition.  A bold statement, yet not an absurd idea to reflect on. Anything is possible, we might as well acknowledge it.

Photo credit: Eleni Philippou, London Underground March'16

Photo credit: Eleni Philippou, London Underground March'16

Spilling out my thoughts onto paper makes me feel vulnerable. When did being vulnerably honest become a tool to be held against you and why do raw thoughts send shivers down our spines? Could it be that these thoughts come naturally to us, to make us question and search deeper, yet we subconsciously choose to block them out of our head? And so when that little light bulb in our brain finds a source of electricity and shoots out such contemplations, it is unexpected and uncomfortable.

Is it possible that they existed within us to some extent, yet they remained unacknowledged? Perhaps this is the reason I have been feeling strangely captivated by my thoughts lately. It is possible that I have began to allow space for these thoughts and they have found a safe home underneath my curls.

Going back to some scribbles in old-forgotten notebooks, I have found that I have doubts and worries today that are similar to those of a year ago. Whether this is positive or negative, I have yet to decide as I have not decided for various matters in my life.  A lot of people say "try not to think so much" or " don't stress over it, you're too young to worry". Well, newsflash: that's easier said than done.

All that needs to be done is comprehend. Recognize that this occurs and it is acceptable, embrace that others are lost in their thoughts and appreciate that some will simply not understand.

Photo credit: Eleni Philippou, London Underground March'16

Photo credit: Eleni Philippou, London Underground March'16

I have been challenging myself lately to spend more time alone, to feel comfortable in my own skin and to test if I can still enjoy social spaces without the company of others. Whenever I feel myself reach over to my phone and contact a friend about doing an activity, I filter that thought and instead carry out the activity alone.

Each time, in the beginning it is somewhat uncomfortable and it takes a while for me to leave my thoughts behind and feel creative and calm. The truth is, I am teaching myself to enjoy this solitude lane and in my discomfort I manage to find a sense of peace . To know that you can have fun alone and be active without the need to be surrounded by others is a powerful thing.

An active social life is quite a 21st century ritual that we have adopted unconsciously. This nightlife-cocktail culture comes as a result of the fast-paced, techno lifestyle which reinforces our need to feel socially active, yet perhaps humans do not actually possess that strong need of constant chatter and banter. 

Perhaps expectations and changes in lifestyle have shown that this is the acceptable norm nowadays but that does not mean one is obliged to follow it. Perhaps all this contemplation leads to reflections of our daily life that do not satisfy who we are becoming, since we are always changing. Therefore, our ideologies are forced to keep up with the changes that we introduce in our lives which challenge previously-set habits.

Surely, confiding in others and sharing moments with loved ones is most-valuable, as long as it does not take us away from our personal path and allows us to treasure solo moments. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, offers insightful thoughts on the matter in his book 'The Life together':

"let him who cannot be alone beware of community...let him who is not in community beware of being alone...Each by itself has profound perils and pitfalls. One who wants fellowship without solitude plunges into the void of words and feelings, and the one who seeks solitude without fellowship perishes in the abyss of vanity, self-infatuation and despair." 

Thus, the call for finding equilibrium between your social voice and your personal voice, becomes more apparent and requisite. Rob Waller further discusses Bonhoeffer's book and the subject of solitude in society in his piece "Solitude and being alone". Read here.

With these in mind, it still does not mean that the transition period, from an obsessed social bunny to a balanced and individualized mind, overflowed with thoughts and reflections, will not be bumpy. Embrace the bumpy-ness, explore it, feel it, experience it, reject it and respect it. It may never come again, it may take it longer to leave you. What matters though is that right now this shift is part of you and it is helping shape another part of you.

Take it or leave it, it won't leave you unless you allow it to.

Inspired by this beautifully-written article, by Bianca Sparacino, which directly spoke to me. I couldn't have said it better and it was just what I needed to read to help put things into perspective.

Photo credit: Eleni Philippou, The Photographer's Gallery, London, March'16

Photo credit: Eleni Philippou, The Photographer's Gallery, London, March'16