The Cost of Being Alone

When I was young, I had the unique opportunity to observe the effects of aloneness.  I observed these effects as they wore upon someone living in our neighborhood.  The person had lost her spouse.  Her children had grown up and had left the house.  She did not go out much nor did she entertain many visitors outside of the occasional visit from family.  She was, most of the time, by herself, separated from people.

She did not have to be lonely.  There were numerous opportunities for her to go places.  My neighbor received plenty of invitations from others to socialize.  But my neighbor, too often, chose to remain alone.

My neighbor’s tendency to self-isolate resulted in some sad and odd behavior.  The curtains of her home were drawn at night because she feared someone would peer into her home, plotting some harm upon her.  But she also kept her drapes shut during the day for a reason still unknown to me.  She used no air conditioner in the summer and kept her drapes closed most of the time.  I would sometimes check on her.  On hot days, the heat wave that hit me as she opened her front door was overwhelming.

Over time, her self-induced loneliness took its toll.  My neighbor eventually lost track of time, dates, names, and seasons.  She lost her mind.

My point is simply that people were not made to be alone.  The Creator desires that we regularly be around other people.

And the Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be by himself: I will make one like himself as a help to him”.
Genesis 2:18 

The cost of being alone concerns me as we “social distance” (a term I have come to abhor).  People are not made to be alone.  Our current technology cannot provide the same positive outcome of human interaction.  Phone calls, texts, social media, and videos are only a reasonable facsimile for experiencing the presence of another person.  There is a reason why prisoners are placed into solitary confinement and it is not to benefit.  Perpetual aloneness and loneliness adversely affect us.  We must be careful.

Solitude is certainly needed.  Being alone provides the opportunity to get quiet, think, reflect, regroup, and recharge.  But like many other things, solitude needs to be balanced.  Just as there is an appropriate time to be alone, there is also a time to be with other human beings.   

You are not designed for indefinite seclusion.  Too much of it is unhealthy.  A life without the touch of another person does something to you that you really do not want.  It removes you from reality and leaves you vulnerable to a self-centered existence.  Aloneness, if left unchecked, weakens you mentally until you become the sole citizen of your own little, fanciful world.  It is not safe for you to always be alone.

Reach outside of yourself and towards others.  Make an effort to be around other people.  Talk to them and be quiet while they talk to you.  Ask questions and be genuinely curious about others.  Look people in the eye and engage them.  Care about them. 

You will find that in-person, social activities will make you happier.  Social interaction will fill a void no other activity can fill.


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