Lincoln High School Statesman

Be alone.

Gage Gramlick, Editor-in-chief

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In an age ostensibly defined by uninhibited, instant connection, we have never felt more alone; according to a survey conducted by Cigna, 54 percent of Americans feel lonely, with young people especially at risk.

Loneliness is not partnerless plague. Linked to depression, cardiovascular diseases, antisocial behavior and Alzheimer’s disease, loneliness lurks behind our deepest fears. And worse, we’re scared to talk about it. We think people who are lonely are alone. The words “I’m lonely” conjure images of crazy cat ladies and kids who have no table to sit at. And while these archetypes may indeed be lonely, feelings of isolation do not discriminate.

In their book, “Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection,” John T. Cacioppo and William Patrick find no connection between a person’s social adeptness and their loneliness. In fact, some of the most sociable people are the loneliest.

“People who are chronically lonely are disconnected,” Laura Carr, licensed marriage and family therapist, explains. “They believe that they are flawed in some way. They are looking for connection outside of themselves, but others will ALWAYS fail them because no one can meet that need. It is unmeetable by others.”

Isolation is an epidemic and if we want genuine connection, we have to flip the script. We have to be more mindful and talk about our loneliness without shame.

But most importantly, and maybe counterintuitively, we have to spend more time alone.

Carr goes on to say that, in order to feel socially-fullfilled, our sense of self-actualization must come from inside, rather than out; before we can be okay with our relationship with others, we have to be okay with our relationship with ourselves. The best way to do this? Spend some time alone.

People who struggle with loneliness often compensate with allocating every free minute to friends. They use people as distractions, band-aids, from their actual issues, furloughing self-confrontation rather than fixing their loneliness.

Alone time forces the issue. Surrounded by only your own thoughts, you can’t help but work through your issues. There are no distractions. No band-aids. Though it may be painful, it is undoubtedly necessary.

So, let’s confront ourselves preemptively. Cancel your plans this weekend. Sit in your room like a weirdo and listen to music and think about things that don’t need to be thought about. Be alone.

Author
Gage Gramlick, Editor-in-Chief

LHS senior Gage Gramlick is editor-in-chief of the online and print versions of the Statesman. He is also editor-in-chief of your mom. Outside of giving...

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