As soon as one realises that one is truly never alone, there is a chance to rediscover all that is good about life; or to start anew
We try to outsource happiness and joy by looking for people who could make us happy. We look for others to cry out our sorrows before. Seldom do we understand that the support we look for is within us. This may sound a bit clichéd, but as soon as one realises that one is truly never alone, there is a chance to rediscover all that is good about life; or to start anew.
I had a lot of friends in school, like most teenagers do; too many, in fact. This group of friends bonded over teenage anxieties and aspirations, roaming around the streets of Lahore till late at night, enjoying every minute of their time. In those moments, it felt like I was living the best of lives, with a group of friends I could never imagine parting with. We were supposed to navigate university together. Deep down inside though, we knew this would end soon.
Soon after graduating I shifted to our native village, leaving the bustling streets of Lahore behind. Several factors informed this decision; my family and I were excited about it but many others were confused. A bit drastic, they thought.
Village life was not new to me, but being a Lahori by birth, having regularly visited the village was not enough preparation for adjusting to hardcore village life, as I soon discovered. Prior to this shift, I had never realised as a city dweller how dissimilar our experiences were from our rural counterparts – enough to make us an alien breed amongst our own kind. The environment was alien to me, and I was alone. But this feeling of otherness provided me with reprieve. For the first time, I could self-reflect.
My travels to Lahore continued after shifting to our village, several times a week at times. But someone always accompanied me on the journey. Recently, I had the chance to travel solo on an official business that needed urgent attention. With lush green fields lining the motorway, a slight drizzle and a favourite track playing on loop (full volume, of course), I drove to Lahore. Alone in the car, I felt happy. There was not a flicker of loneliness in sight. My confidence boosted, I dined at a fancy restaurant, while many gawked at the young man having his meal alone.
At times like these, one realises that one is capable of handling most matters of life by oneself, even if the world tells us otherwise. I felt like I had accomplished something great for myself, i.e. learnt a lesson in self-reliance.
Once back home, I reflected on the day’s accomplishments and realised that we may be part of a large group but at the very core we are one person. That thought can be overwhelming yet relieving. Caring for oneself mentally or physically is the least promoted notion in society. Also, recognising one’s support system and strengths is key to surviving anything.
I used to always look for someone to share my emotions with but never realised that no one could understand me better than myself. Having discovered that instead of allowing the world to dictate how I feel about myself, focusing on self-care, positive encouragement, and self-love can help increase my self-esteem.
I have started giving myself more time. Going for short solo trips to neighbouring cities on my own; learning their histories, observing people, learning something new each step of the way etc – little achievements that become a great source of motivation.
I have started enjoying time with my family, which consists of my mother, elder sister and two friends who I consider family rather than friends. People, who have never let me down and have always tried to help me overcome the hurdles I have faced. After my father’s passing, these four have been my support system. They are the ones I respect the most; for their great gratitude towards me and the sense of belonging they have provided me.
I never regretted moving to our village, even though it was depressing and difficult at first. But shifting to the countryside gave me a chance to explore profound emotions I had buried deep within. I know now, better than ever, that other than myself there are few people who will stay with me throughout my life, cheering me on, wherever I am.
And when someday even they move away, I will have me to count on. It’s time we learnt to accept being alone as something normal, something we can survive and perhaps learn from.
The writer is a student. His Twitter handle is