The Pale Blue Dot and the Lethality of Loneliness

In the film 'Men, Women and Children', the lead character Tim (Ansel Elgort) has given up. A life once filled with football games and the persona that went with the status of being the MVP becomes one of introversion, self-reflection and the question of 'What's the Point?' - a change brought about after the character watches Carl Sagan's 'Pale Blue Dot' which points out just how insignificant we are in the greater scheme of things. 

As his life continues to spiral swiftly and without pause, Tim attempts suicide but is interrupted by his girlfriend who sensed something was wrong. 

A byproduct of Depression is that you do turn to philosophy, to poetry, to novels and psychology books in an effort to simultaneously contemplate existence and melt into a state of nonexistence, numbness, the words in these books fueling your inflection but also reinforcing the pointlessness of making an effort when human life is in fact insignificant in the context of the universe. 

Pair this with the antidepressants that are prescribed with more ease than a child buying candy and the situation is further elevated. Loneliness is a universal concept, one that is misinterpreted as weakness, one that is overlooked by many and one that is experienced by all. The difficulty is in creating a world for yourself wherein you don't find yourself spiraling at the thought of it. This is of particular importance to teens who find themselves extradited from circles with relatively high frequency due to the pressures of peers at school.

By learning to be ok alone, you're taking the power away from loneliness and giving the power back to yourself. 

Our tips for learning to love solitude:

Solitude is actually amazing. It's a time for inflection and focus, it allows you to be a complete idiot with your dog or cat and there's noone around to judge. The added benefit of being happy alone is that the world opens up in ways it was never open to you before. 

Go to a movie alone

I go to movies by myself all the time. People think it's odd - though the other people I know who go solo think it's necessary sometimes. If you think about it, a movie is the easiest way to edge into solitary confidence. You can't talk to anyone because you're in a movie, it's dark, no one is looking at you or caring about what you're doing, they're there to see a movie and mack in the back row. You give yourself a couple of hours by yourself, effectively on a date with yourself and no one is the wiser but you've just taken the first step. 

Go to the gym alone

Going to the gym alone is another easy one. No one is there to look at you, they're all in their own little gym tunnelvision worlds and so are you, it's an easy out to head to the gym, do your workout and head back home without even realising anyone else is there. 

Go to dinner alone (or breakfast or lunch)

Having a meal by yourself has been made to sound crazy in film, and most feel that they have to have something to do to make it OK - playing on their phones, taking a book to read or typing away on their laptop and perhaps this will help ease you into it though once you become more comfortable with it, you'll find it's actually really enjoyable. The people-watching is fun, you can quietly eavesdrop on people's conversations and hear the absurdity of their lives while patting yourself on the back for being so much more together. 

Here's the big one: Travel Alone

When I was 13, I hopped a plane to New Caledonia and it was my first time travelling without my parents. I had always thought that if I traveled, I would do it with friends, a grand OE but every time I was presented with an opportunity, I chose to go it alone. It throws you in to the deep end and forces you to be ok with solitude really fast. At 18, I went to Italy and Paris alone - Italy was a Contiki tour (which is a great way to ease into it, starting with a large group of strangers and then tapering off to just being solo once the tour finishes). At 22, I spent three months in the United States alone, doing a combo of Contiki tours and solo travel, the list goes on. Whenever I travel, I find time to go it alone. Even if travelling with friends, just the simple act of taking yourself off for a solo date for the afternoon or day to wander a new city, take in a show or a lunch, saunter the boardwalks of beachy communities, alone with your thoughts, it's an amazing way to build your solitary confidence. 

As you become more comfortable with these things, you'll find that you can go weeks or months without feeling the need to see anyone (though we don't recommend just holding up in your house all Howard Hughes-like, you should definitely leave your house and wear clothes), you don't feel the crushing need to be with someone, that you're unwanted or unloved because you're single or feeling like you're so alone because to you now, there is no such thing. 

It's not an overnight thing, it takes time but fighting the lethality of loneliness is imperative not just for your mental health and happiness but for your own solitary confidence. 

To expand further on the Lethality of Loneliness, we've posted a video below of John Cacioppo speaking on this very topic at his TED Talk.