The art and joy of being alone

Published 11:34 am Saturday, November 5, 2022

By Jillian Haskin

It’s bittersweet, yet it is the demise of many and cultivates the final ending to the mystery of what once was 40 years later. This is the reality of senior year.

It flashes right before your eyes, a simple walk to the bathroom and a quick glance at a bulletin board, which you realize you’ll never see again a year from now. Blissful, eccentric, crackling underneath the surface, like the joy that bubbles underneath a foggy window on Christmas morning. With senior year reflection comes a simple realization of what has stood in solidarity from my first confusing day of freshman year to my joyful, tear-streaked senior year: the art of being alone.

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When one enters high school, there’s an aptitude for friends that come along, like a little package deal of stickers. It’s a quick glance in the hallway, a breeze of delirium under the white football stadium lights, a kiss on the cheek, and moments that encompass only the beginning. It’s freshman year and what eventually bleeds and trickles into sophomore year. Yet nothing ever really hits; there’s no message – it is simply everything and nothing, all at once. This time is far from complacent, yet it’s impressive in its simplicity to just pass the moments. Its essence is lucky to be captured in a photo.

Throughout this time, many cherish the ransacked thrill that comes with the high intensity, sweaty, shimmering feel of getting ready on a Friday night, staying out to tip pocket change on a syrup-stricken counter at 2 a.m. While this may seem like an expected roller coaster with similarly-aligned curves at every angle, the drop in the middle is the most unexpected. It starts small and unwavering, something that makes you toss ever so slightly, like the distant sound of a country train running its course in the evening. Yet you always stop and listen. It’s a little pea lurching in your stomach – nothing serious, but something better off digested.

Many find themselves alone as high school progresses, and assume they are “lonely.” Yet to be alone is to be saturated in one’s own presence; it is not the presentation of pity for another’s absence. It is not solitude or a shut eye to the perpetuating elation that is a late night diner filled with chatter, merely an embrace of what has always been. Being alone is not supposed to feel like a permanently-blinking cycle of a slow-controlled stop, but rather a deep breath of feeling – feeling what is calm, feeling what reverberates with a quietness, and feeling beyond our thoughts for clarity. Learning how to listen for this stillness has been the biggest lesson I have learned and could recommend to any high schooler.

This knowledge is beyond that of any book, any philosophy revolved around mindfulness, stoicism, or a late-night thought, but rather something that is hand in hand with time. Time is the postman of allowing yourself to give definition to what makes you, you.