Few days ago, I was asked on line:
“Do you have any advice for feeling alone even though you have a group of friends? I struggle with that at uni.”
It spoke to me because I had that feeling for a long time growing up, especially in my college years. I had friends around all the time, lots of friends. When I’d eat out during class breaks, when I’d run errands, even in class. We’d laugh like crazy, talk and argue about things we like, always having a good time. The only time I’d be physically alone was on my drive home. Despite the number of people I had around me most of the day, I couldn’t shake this very lonely feeling even I have 4 siblings at home and 3 of them are energetic kids. On that drive home, all the laughs and moments shared had settled down and all that remained was my numbness from feeling alone. Pure discontent. Why?
It wasn’t until I started collage that I understood the problem—me. I wasn’t happy with myself. I wasn’t happy with who I was, and I was stuck in my comfort zone, mostly because I didn’t actually know who I was, as I wrote before I lost my big vision — here. I spent my whole life surrounded by people—taking in their thoughts, their words. I shivered at the thought of ever sitting alone or doing anything by myself. So when I’d leave these hangouts with my friends, I was uncomfortable. And I took that as feeling alone and unhappy, but only because I had never experienced just sitting with my own thoughts. Especially in Junior High School, I spent my whole days at home and studied 24 hours non-stop to gain good rank. When my friends hangouts they would not ask me to come join because the answer was always no. On my lunch break, I’d pick up my IDR4000 meatball, read book or wrote poem and sit alone in the park. Letting my imagination take charge. Laughing by myself seeing a football player slipped down and failed to make goal. Noticing I have a really ugly laugh, but then starting to laugh at my own laugh. Having the epiphany that that’s just how I laugh, that’s me. Who cares what others think of it? It was in these moments I understood who I am and it felt so good. I felt complete for the first time because I was happy with myself.
So my advice—be alone. Do things by yourself. Run errands alone. Take a walk in a park alone. Go to book store, read alone. I even spend my holiday at home, whole days, read books, wrote lots, watching Islamic lecturer, help mom. And lay my butts down in my beloved brown carpet, alone. But don’t sit on your phone the whole time, take a break with your smartphone, even I still do not have phone yet…let your mind think for itself and drift off into your own imagination and do self-muhasabah to think what you’ve done, to feel grateful for what we have in this amazing world. This is YOU time—time to get to know yourself. Don’t make it a habit to HAVE to do things with other people. Befriend yourself, learn more about what you like and you don’t like without the opinions and critiques from your friends. Just learn to be okay with being alone.
“You must enter a relationship with yourself before anyone else."
So try to be happy with yourself. Once you do, you’ll understand that hanging out with friends is a plus, not a must. All you really need is yourself, and God.
God is another reason why that feeling I once had began to disappear. I began to view those feelings of loneliness as tests. Am I gonna run to Him? After He’s helped me and I started to feel better, will I still run to Him? One lesson I learned from the story of Prophet Yusuf AS, is that one must realize that truly the only thing you need to survive in this life, is Allah. I especially feel that when we fast, pushing away all unnecessary things in this life and concentrating your efforts in remembrance of your Creator.
The lesson: learn to be alone, & remember that "He is with you wherever you are.” [Hadid 57:4]
“Whenever you are alone, remind yourself that the Almighty has sent everybody away so that it’s only you and Him.”
– Mufti Ismail Menk
Do not be afraid to be alone. Because there are many things you can do at that time.