Life’s Cruelest Irony

“Remember: the time you feel lonely is the time you most need to be by yourself. Life’s cruelest irony.” ~Douglas Coupland

People are social creatures. We want someone to love and be loved in return. We crave it just as we crave fresh air to breathe and clean water to drink.

It doesn’t always happen, though. Others don’t love us the way we deserve while others realize they didn’t love us like they thought they did in the beginning. We end up on the sidelines alone and bleeding from the gaping wounds left in their wake. What hurts the most is that we have to sit and watch them and others find the love and happiness that we longed for but were deprived from receiving.

But sometimes we need to cultivate that pain of loneliness. Even when we’re lonely, we can focus the energy into reflection and growth. Reflect on what we need to accomplish in our life, work on it, and grow as human beings. Become the people we wouldn’t have become otherwise.

It seems ironic to spend time alone when you’re feeling lonely, but it’s true. Just think about it: if you’re with someone, you form an identity around the two of you as a couple instead of who you are as an individual. If you break up, you’re identity is lost because you built it around that person. Wouldn’t it be better to know who you are before you make that commitment so you won’t have to start over again if the worst should happen?

When I was in high school, I longed to be in love. I thought I’d have a steady boyfriend by the time I was a sophomore or junior in college and when we graduated, we’d get married, have a couple kids, and I’d stay home while he went to work.

I’ve had my B.A. for three years and I’m almost done with my master’s and I’m still single. I’ve come to appreciate the beauty of being single. Through the years, I’ve cultivated my loneliness, focused on the things that I needed to accomplish, and as a result, I’ve grown and changed into the person I was meant to be. I wouldn’t have become the person I am today if I’d fallen in love when I thought I would.

Now that I’m older, I see the value of being single. I’ve grown to love it and enjoy the moments of solitude that I wouldn’t have received if I’d been in a relationship. I no longer plan on being in a relationship because I still need and long for the gifts that come from being single. There are still those moments when I feel the drowning sensation of loneliness, those moments of desire to be in the company of a significant other, but those moments seem to come and go by quickly.

I don’t regret my decision to remain single. It was a decision of my own making and one that I needed to make. If people disagree with me, it’s because their paths have led them to different understandings than my own. We all have different experiences, decisions, and understandings. Not one decision is right or wrong as long as it feels right for where someone is on their road in life. Just don’t expect anybody else to live it or feel it for their own.

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