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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Between Loneliness and Being Alone

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I am a firm believer that solitude is essential for the soul. Now, the word solitude may sound a bit extreme: maybe you’re picturing the monastic lifestyle of an old man dressed in robes dwelling in desert caves. But the word solitude evokes something quite different for me. I picture myself at my favorite place, the San Diego Safari Park, observing Malaysian tigers and river otters or reading my favorite book, What is the What, at the park near my house. For me, solitude doesn’t mean just being alone. Solitude equates to happiness.

This past week I decided that I would spend my Saturday at the Mall of America. I would get some shopping done, run a few errands, eat a sitdown dinner (I believe eating alone sometimes is one of life’s greatest joys), and maybe watch a movie. And I would do it by myself. I purchased my round-trip ticket through Northfield Lines with a giant grin on my face. During the entire week, I looked forward to spending a day that would follow my own design.

But of course, that rarely ever happens. Some of my friends decided to join me on my excursion, and although I love their company and have a great time with them, I was honestly disappointed at the idea. But being my passive self, I didn’t really say anything to forgo the plan.

The trip overall ended up being pretty fun: I got to sort through sweaters, earmuffs, and stuffed animals at Alpaca Connection and sift for snazzy socks at Sox Appeal. However, it was nowhere near the day that I had been envisioning. I didn’t get to catch that movie or eat that sit-down dinner with a book in my hand. I didn’t get to look for trinkets for my grandma or an I Love Minnesota T-shirt for my mom to remind her of her childhood home. In a sense, it’s my fault. I should’ve spoken up for myself. I should’ve just said that I wanted some time alone. I know if I did I would’ve been so much more content.

The beauty of solitude is that there is nobody else that you have to look out for. It may sound selfish. It may sound rude. But it’s the truth. You are immune to worrying about so-and-so’s food preferences, shopping habits, likes or dislikes. You just have to worry about yourself.

For my entire life I thought that wanting to be alone meant that there was something wrong with me. Everyone always seems to want to be with company from dusk till dawn. But now, I do not think that is necessarily the truth. I think we all cherish those moments when we walk into an empty dorm room or take a piping hot shower for the sole reason that we are alone. It’s only recently, and by recently I mean this past weekend, that I’ve learned that doing what makes you happy is more important than going along with an apparent mold of what is expected of you. Wanting to be alone occasionally doesn’t make you antisocial or unapproachable; it just makes you human.

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