People my age tend to fall in two groups.
The first group is either married for a couple years now, planning their children (or having them), engaged in long-term sealed relationships, or actively dating everything that moves (and fucks).
The second group is wider than the army of keep calm and marry on described above, but nonetheless focused on flirting, dating, and switching partners like sweaty socks in summer.
Now, while these two groups continue to perfectly co-exist, multiply and reproduce themselves or keep bathing in fear of missing out, you will acknowledge the presence of a much scarcer group at the intersection between the first two.
While the lonely is not a novelty breed of people, they are most often than not misjudged and even pointed at by their peers who either married, procreated or jumped from a bed to another while looking for the universal unicorn of love and compassion.
The lonely does not apologize for being lonely, or feel sorry for themselves. The lonely actually understand both other parties because at some point, before they figured themselves out, they decide to a. Not stick or settle for unsettling business like tying the know with a person for as long as the benefits are mutual and b. Stay focused about their ambitions and in touch with their own sensibility and awareness of the surrounding life.
No, that doesn’t make the lonely an abstinent, stuck-up, self sufficient yogi, it just makes them more connected to themselves and willing to find out what is it that makes them tick, before they can make others tick(le).
Growing up in a strange and emotionally distanced household, with a neurotic mother and a mostly absent minded father who were both too focused on their work or on travelling made me easily fall into the first – romance embalmed, family-life seeking – type of group. I had numerous lasting relationships, mostly jumping from one to another and fantasized on marriage and building a generous resort to make me feel safe. But aging, it became clearer and clearer to me that safety is not something you grab or get from other people.
So I became more independent and picky about my choices, dated here and there, went on with the vibe of my generation and explored my sexuality with both men and women, while slowly turning into a workaholic cynic.
Then, one day, I began to understand I enjoy my own company solely, much more than running after people, experiences and answers to questions I did not know I was asking.
But I’ve not always been like this. I used to have a life very well endowed according to what well endowed is considered by society.
I don’t know if being lonely makes you stronger, or richer.
Most of the times you have your friends, or your parents, but going solo by choice or context may often make you feel trapped or misunderstood. Sometimes I envy those who have a shoulder to lay on at night or who don’t need to hook up to some stranger because they need to get off. Sometimes I just prefer dinner alone and my wine alone, while writing or watching others.
Sometimes I realize by being lonely you forget – basic things, like kissing your boyfriend in the subway, or on the street, or watching a movie together on the floor. But that’s the only mishap I can think about – sharing. Otherwise you can do anything really by yourself. I’ve exchanged 9 homes this year and did some unpredicted, unplanned shit. Sometimes I feel its gravity taking a toll on me but otherwise it’s beautiful. Sometimes I feel like living in a suspended bubble, other times I make this mental mantra called A girl walks home alone at night and repeat it each time I’m afraid to be alone on the streets of foreign cities at 4 am.
But lonely does not mean introvert, or alone. It doesn’t need to become a stigma, as it does when people from other walks of life begin questioning if you are okay like that.
Yes, some of us, lonely people, are perfectly okay with our loneliness. We feed on it, and it gives us time with ourselves. When was the last time you got stuck in bed reading a novel only by yourself, or decided to cross the street alone, enter a restaurant and order whatever the people from next table ordered, without feeling like decomposing? I’m not saying it’s for everyone, like marriage isn’t for everyone, like sleepovers and one night stands aren’t for everyone, like leaving your country isn’t. But it feels damn good to be at peace like that. And you know what? It’s perfectly healthy.
Ioana Cristina Casapu is the Managing Director of Art Parasites Magazine. She likes Brian Eno, airports and never says no to a good old Gin&Tonic.