By: Tamiko Guillaume
In many cultures, a solitary or quiet child is of concern. If they are members of large, outgoing, and expressive families, the cause for concern is elevated. In educational settings, the child might be tolerated as a necessary segment of the larger classroom community. In the adult world, the solitary individual is wrongly labeled as “antisocial” or the opposite of a team player in the larger microcosm of the workplace.
In the extended periods of lockdown, work furloughs, and distance learning, increased segments of society find the forced isolation troubling to say the least. In extreme cases, individuals might suffer mental health crises such as depression, stress eating, and strained interpersonal relationships. Interestingly, those individuals classified as solitary loners are coping with the extended isolation. Some thrive in the new-found solitude and dread return to what is known as “normal”.
Why is it that those classified as social butterflies are experiencing the crisis of coping? Why are those who are solitary by nature thriving in the confines of their homes and extended isolation? It might not be possible to present a definitive answer, it is interesting to examine and possibly redefine what is viewed as normal and abnormal. A wise man once said:
‘Wherever you go, there you are’.
In essence, we must be at peace with ourselves in all situations: in the midst of an office, a mall, apartment, or forced isolation. If we are in the large, boisterous family, we must feel comfort with our quiet, diminished role as a part of the whole. The solitary student must be offered to be a part of the whole or respected for their desire to remain as an independent part. Only then can we conquer the feeling of loneliness and view solitude as a superpower.
In forced situations where we find ourselves alone, we must rediscover the individual. What does he or she like to do? What part of the larger system has consumed us so that we neglect our private time?
As many years, months, weeks, days, minutes, and seconds that we are individually destined to redeem, we must remain faithful to ourselves in times of solitude. It is a prayer that all may experience supportive families and communities of friends with unconditional and unapologetic love. In unfortunate situations where one does not experience this, we must rediscover the solitary parts of ourselves and revel in our own company.