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On Solitude: Teach Your Kids The Resilience Of Being Comfortable In Their Own Company

Posted: January 30, 2018

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Stress and suicidal tendencies in the youth. Maybe this happens because kids are pushed to be not themselves, especially introverts? Some musing on solitude.

When I was little, I was coaxed to venture out and make friends. I made friends. Played outdoors. Muddied myself. Got scolded often. Was great at flaunting myself. At making myself visible. I loved limelight. I did not overdo it. But I wasn’t a silent kid either. My personality bordered on extroversion.

Then unfortunate things happened. Family metamorphosed into dysfunctionality. Terrible stuff. Loneliness crept in. I could hardly express myself. In a few years, a deep silence surrounded me. Suicidal. Scared. Less on confidence. Less on self-esteem. Clingy. Needed relationships to stay afloat. As a result of which entered into wrong relations and crushed self-esteem even further. Took a lot of time and incredible mental support and resilience to come out of the abyss.

Today that abyss still threatens me. Darkness looms over my head all the time. But I have found my ways now. I am less vulnerable now than I ever was, but vulnerable nevertheless.

I am sure this isn’t my story alone. I am sure there are many here who are perhaps reading this who have gone through similar sequence of events and need other people around to keep them afloat.

Humans are social animals. We need society to survive and thrive. All too often we teach our children to be social. All too often we focus on them being extroverts. All too often we ingrain in them the need to please others so that they can thrive.

All too often we neglect showing them the value of solitude. Of being comfortable with themselves. Of being them. Their own unique selves. Sometimes we condition them to be social animals at the cost of others.

I understand the need of making them social. But I also understand the need of guiding them through their vulnerabilities. Of helping them understand their own company. Of showing them ways in which they can spend time knowing themselves. So when the limelight disappears, when life changes its tracks, they still enjoy their own company. They understand all is not over yet. They learn to draw lines. So they don’t cling to violent, harassing relations just out of the sheer fright of isolation. So they don’t sacrifice their esteem for people who don’t value them just because they feel the need to prove themselves. So they realize that at the end of it they are loved, if not by anyone, by themselves.

I feel the values of society and solitude – both are equally important. So when one falters, the other stands strong.

We live in an age of extreme emotions. Gruelling timelines. Peak passions. In such times, solitude is the only hope of creating a generation that knows itself and doesn’t tremble meekly at the thought of changing dynamics of relations. Solitude is essential. As much as society is. Sometimes more.

Let us bring up a generation of people who aren’t shy of being with themselves. And at the same time aren’t shy of letting others be. Let us guide them on solitude.

(Written in the wake of statistics that show increased levels of narcissism, bullying and suicidal tendencies)

If you or anyone you know is feeling suicidal, here are some of the helplines available in India. Please call. 

Aasra, Mumbai: 022-27546669

Sneha, Chennai: 044-2464 0050

Lifeline, Kolkata: 033-2474 4704

Sahai, Bangalore: 080–25497777

Roshni, Hyderabad: 040-66202000, 040-66202001

Previously published on the author’s Facebook page.

Image source: Flickr, for representational purposes

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