Friday, January 16, 2009

Dealing with Acute Lonsomeness : A Surviver's Notes

The long term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by Scientists whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable Than my own meandering Experience…

I am no stranger to lonesomeness. for past one and a half year I have been ALONE for most of the time .Eversince my flat mate Jitu got busy with his film making gig . I am pretty much living by myself .I  was in a relationship  but unfortunately  it fell  apart few months ago .This solitary existence played a catalytic role in withdrawl symptoms . Things were pretty bad at one point of time . Its not that I don't have friends. I have and they are dependable but calling someone over to your flat for a  drink or some philosophical babbling doesn't justify the logistical difficulty (and cost) . Ergo I stay in my cocoon . waiting for the time when I will become a " butterfly". 

I was forced to deal with this "urban loner ", "High Tech Low life " syndrome.Charles Darwin told us that In the process of evolution , humans ( mammals to be more generic ) develop some sort of equilibrium with their  surrounding .This is how life flourish .While all the biological  and ecological adaptations are gradual, natural and somewhat instinctive , same can't be stated for psychological adaptation.They are anything but INSTINCTIVE .Things are not in Black and white there. When things are inside your head you don't need to change the world you need to change your  perspective . Easier said than done . Dealing with lonesomeness  is one such thing.  

My time as a loner has tought me that Lonlinesss is not a state of world its a state of mind .with that relevation I fought back and I am still fighting back and its fucking  fun fighting it .This post is an attempt to share some of the tactics which has worked for me .I am writing them here so that you don't have to learn them hard way .so here goes .

Every Lonliness is a Pinnacle 

#1 Stop Mulling  Over  Your "Story"  and Start writing it :

So Whats your story so far ? Let me gues .You are someone in his /her late twenties , staying away from  parents for past 4-5 years , working with a leading software company , making a decent salary every month, You like your work but you also know that it's not world changing , you had a girl friend /boy friend but things didn't worked out , most of your friends have "other plans" everytime you call. You have some ideas for a starting a business /wrting a book / starting a project  but things are stagnated . There is an inexplicable inertia all around you  .Your parents are after your life to convince you to get married but you are waiting for your  Lady Love(or  Mr. Right ) .  Usually you put up a brave front but one sublime day When you get frustrated you ask "Why Its happening to  Me ?" . Well....there is nothing  unique about you and ....It's not "happening" to You Damn it, you are doing it to yourself . 

Mulling over your story is the worst thing you can do while facing the challenge of  lonesomeness . You can think about your college days, that trip to goa with friends, your frust crush, first kiss [if any],first heart break ,  first job and First ["insert your mental cobweb here"] . This won't help. You can think about this till Cow comes home and you will still be miserable.  Trust me  I  am speaking from experience . 

You need to understand ..what ever it was... its over .There is nothing wrong in looking back at your life once in a while and feel nostalgic but don't make it a full time job . if you keep on rewinding those memories again and again they will loose whatever little healing power they have .  and let me tell you what you are "Actually" doing . you are escaping and you are escaping to familarity .  Don't do it . Your mind need stimulus  .Go out create your new memories .explore life . what happened  till now was one chapter of a long book named Life . Now turn the fucking page and write the next ...We are looking forward to reading  it :) 

#2 Don't think you are the only one :

One of the most common misconception harbored by any loner  is that He is the only one in world going through it .  That all cosmic forces are conspiring against him . Its not like this dude (or babe) . I have some good news for you .World is full of self proclaimed victims like you  (one of the ex vetran victim is writing this blog ) . What ? You want to know where they are  ? Well I can tell you some of them are sitting in front of a computer screen right now and reading this article, like you . Rest of them log in regularly at Facebook/orkut/my space . Patient in advance stage of disease becomes bloggers and you can find teminally ill folks at slashdot .

I was reading google trend report sometime back and learned that most of the time highest  traffice laod on sites like Facebook, Orkut, ,Yahoo Chat is in late evening hours .and its consistent across Geography .  Be it india , Korea , brazil or USA  there are are people who don't have anyone to talk in evening . Take a look at this chart and see how consistently people are looking for the solution for loneliness . 
So how does this knowledge can help you today evening when you will be alone again ? Well First off it will have a sort of placebo effect may find an irrational (and may be false) comfort of  proximity,connection  and numbers . second you can rule out the "Fate-is-conspiring -against-me" theory  ,third if like me you are thinking that Changing City-Country-Job will solve your problem than you can throw those hope away too . 

Trust me, once you clear this crap out from your head problem will look very managable . 

#3 Stop Comparing 

When We are lonely We start comparing our self to people around us. We compare and we compare stupidly some common examples are 

Situation( i ) : You see this  always smiling  guy with iPhone who flaunts it to evey girl in office and they swoon looking at the shiny toy . You look the "stardom" of guy and think "Man ! Whats the big deal.  Don't they know that iPhone Firmware had this issue  and it don't even let you access file system and there is no fucking Cut-Copy-Paste in that . My Nokia N95 is far better than it . Why don't they see Me and My N95" .  

Therotically you are right. May god give  more  Power to you  "theoretically" .  But in the mean time that "jerk" will  keep on getting  one date after another . 

Situation (ii) : You go to neighbourhood shopping mall  .you see a newly wed couple where  lady is holding (clinging) arm of  her "Hubby" while navigating   her way through the crowd .  you think "Man ! How cute. such a gesture in today's time ?What a Lucky Dog "  

Example (iii) :Your married friend seems to be having a perfect life He just got a new job and a second  car . 

Example (IV):  Someone less competent got a promotion ,while you suffer a 10% payrise .
 I can go on and on ...List is endless .
To sum up It appears to you that whole world is living in the state of blissful joy  .Like they are celbrating the second coming of christ . On the other hand in your life. its  like an eternal month "ramzan" and you are thumping your chest like rudaali . You know something ! you are stupidly selective in your observation . I was like you only before I wised up.

Solution (i) : Chances are that this "always smiling  jerk " is not that popular as it seem . Do as I say. Talk to one of those girls to them for 5 min ..Mention his name once and than wait, beat around the bush. I bet you will see the dirt .No,You will see a Cloud of dirt . A Massive explosion of  dirt . In that explosion of dirt you will see the "eternal truth"  which has always elduded the masculine of human species . " If you think that you are popular with More than one girl chances  are that you are popular with none of them ". 

So next time you see such "hot shot" .Just close your eyes imaging a huge explosion of dirt bomb . you will feel better .

Solution (ii):
Do you know that most  of the time when newly wed women do that "Cling-the-arm-in-public" stunt is   when  
  •  A more Hot single chick  is passing by . it's women's code of saying " Stay Away Bitch , He is My Catch"
  • They are wearing a sandal with pencil heel .their clinging to hubby's arm is not a gesture of emotional support or something, its a gesture of  support ; litreally .
This is not to say that this gesture doesen't mean anything . It do  but when such actions are driven by genuine love, admiration and dependebility then it will be very pure . The vibes won't make you feel bad  about yourself .  Its hard to explain the diffrence . you will know it when you will see it . I have seen  both and from compelte strangers . there is a hell  lot of diffrence . 
Same goes for rest of the examples also . you are seeing wordl filtered through the lense of  your biases . there is always another dimension . Often times when chips are down we don't bother to look for alternate explanation of events . We run with first thing that comes to our mind . sadly its in those un explored dimenstion that truth reside .Explore them ..look for alternate explanation .Truth shall set you free from truma of comparision.

# 4 Join A Gym - Excercise is just one part of it 

For years I resisted any suggestion of joining gym and doing workout . Mere thought of getting out of bed and doing those funny things to yourself was a horror. Result ?  I had a body which was rapidly turning in to a SCUD ( solid Cylinder of Uniform Diameter) and a stamina which was not worth mentioning . not a good thing for someone with the ambition of dating Sania Mirza .  So Sometime back i joined a gym in my office building .  It was very hard initially  I felt pain in those part of my body which i didn't even know I had . Talk of self awareness !
But one unintended influence of going to gym was the people I meet there  .  I meet a middle age housewife working in a software company .Mother of a 4 year old kid . She told me that She do gym not because she aspire to be a slim "in shape" chick  but becuase it keeps her mind  fresh  and clear the stress . One shower after an hour of workout and She feel stress free . In the absense of regular excercising she becomes edgy and restless .  Her husband is so happy from the change that he makes tea for her in morning so that she can do gym.  

I meet a group of 4 guys of  my age.Listening to their conversation in shower room is like daily dose of laughter challenge . they told me that they come an hour early to office so that they can have fun in gym . otherwise its boring life in office .

what you see here ? these are people who don't let things happen to them .when they see some thing wrong with their life they take action to fix it . scope of their action might be limited to their life only but still we can learn from them . They don't drift through life . this is the type of people you need to interact with  when you are alone . so that you don't resging your self to fate . BTW I've started wearing my body hugging T shirt again and it don't feel that odd  . : ) 

# 5 Call your parents  more often

Your parents can sense your trouble from miles away .  even on phone . they can tell something is wrong . so you think you can save them from trouble by avoiding to call them . they will still sense it . so best bet is be regular ..more regular in calling them and based on your comfort level discuss what you are going through. they are one of those very few people in world  who won't judge you no matter what . so be  little more open to them . I don't know why it helps but it helps . Of Course their is a sideeffect that you will have to field the Questions about getting married but I believe you can handel it . 

#6 Go Ahead Talk to "that" Girl /Boy  

This is a bit  risky but worth trying . You don't really know this person.  you see them once in a while ..around you but have no direct communication link . there is something about them there personality , mannerism , their eyes ,their look , their aura  or something inexplicable .  complicated  protocol of social formality dictates that you shouldn't  venture to talk to them . unless you mask it under  some stupid  "friend" stuff.  I strongly advice that if you think that talking to this person will be helpful than go ahead do it . Most people respect your honestly  If your intentions are clear  . its risky because 

A) Most of the time this occurs with the person of opposite sex so often times we confuse it with Crush or something .As I will explain in next point that its anything but crush . 

B) You can get rejected or humilated if the person whom you talked to turns out to be shallow or uncommunicative .

If you get humiliated or something than please be easy on your self and other person . see there are so many folks around us who play the victim card to get sympathy . it may be the case that person you are approching has been tricked before on such things . HE/She has good reason to avoid you . Eveyone has got their own history and their own cross to carry .

But my Life's experience tell me that people are more nice than society allow them to be . Since each one of  us has gone through this phase at one time or another so most of the time they try to be help.Its a risk nevertheless but a risk worth taking . I talked to someone about my problem once  .Someone whom I didn't knew much . I was lucky than She didn't turned out to be a jerk . Did it helped ? You bet . 
#7 Remember Relatioship is  not a  cure of  Lonesomeness  

You are going through this period of extended solitude and someone who is your well wisher suggest that "why don't you start seeing someone ?" .Its more likely if you are suffering a breakup . suddenly you will see a whole army of friends trying to set you up with another friend of theirs (who in all pobability is also suffering  from same problem) .you are so distressed that  a slightest  of comfort will seems like a Manna in dessert. you will fall for it . and agree to meet . you will tell yourself ..after all its just a meeting . 

This is a Trap , turn back and RUN ..Run for your fucking life or else  few months down the line you will wreck two more lives  . one of those will be yours . This is one point where I am not speaking from my own experience . But  I have seen it happening from sideline. I have seen it  way too many times that i think its true . Why this happen ? because the foundation of that realtionship was pain . it was never meant to last . Its like dating your dentist . you can only have 32 trips on the pretext of your "Problem" . if you want the relationship to last beyond that than it better have some thing more real and more robust . Sadly this is not true for most of the cases.  

# 8 Learn to be comfortable with your self 

Being Alone force you to be in the company of one person who matter most in your life  YOU .  We feel bad because we don't really know this person or we have forgotten whatever little familarity we had . whats left is a chaotic mix of your friends and family's opinion . without rhyme or reason . Take this time to sort it out . Take this time to be friends again . Its not some freudian crap i am talking about  its your life which is being dicussed .  As I don't know you so i can't suggest what you should do specifically . but i can tell what I did so that you can get a general  idea .  

Once i resolved to fight back , I  realized that only thing i have on my side is time . I started using it for good . started spending time on my self .  All the while i knew some of my prsonality issues .aggression , too much analysis , too mcuh involvment ,  too much spending , etc etc . I always wanted to work on them and improve them but never did. with nothing else to do i started focusing on these aspects of my persona .  Initial result are very encouraging. You will be surprised to see what you are capable of . It require a lot of disciplain initially but soon it becomes a routine . Today I wake up early (5:30) read a book for an hour, walk for 10 -15 minute. every weekend I do my own laundry  .I have actually started saving . all this was stuff of dream few months back .

 I am nowhere near my goal . I am nowhere close to attaining my residual self image. there is a long road ahead .whatever I have achieved till now are my private personal accomplishments.I am sure their will more acid tests down the line .It will be hard  but for the first time in many years I want to give it a good fight . for the first time in many year i am starting  to believe . I doubt if any of that would have happen without the opprtunity of self reflection offered to me in the disguise of solitude . 

# 9 Work on your interest : 

You are single , you have a 5 day work week , you have some money to spare . you might as well  use it on doing all the stuff which makes little sense to do but which you always wanted to do . Travel  to little known places , Read those obscure book you heard about , buy yourself a set of lego bricks,Indulge in Window Shopping  .kind of  stuff which is generally associated with  kids or old people . They do it due to lack of other option and its unlikely that they wil be able to alter their life in any siginifcant way by doing that . but you are still young you can use the learning for your own good . 

In last 06 months or so i have traveled a bit . read some weird books like simulacra and simulation , tried my hand at lego bricks .I learned to paly opening chord of "Ajeeb dastan hai ye" on aryan's synthesizer .  I am proud of every single second of doing that . find your own muse and you will be happy too . [ By the way Making model with lego bricks turned dout to be  more difficult than I imagine  . other good thing about having lego blocks in your  apartment is that you have some bright colored thing around .  ] 

#10 Fix your dinner your self

 I Love cooking  so I am biased on this one .It may or may not be usefull for you to same extent . But it won't do much harm either . I learned to cook three chicken dish , i can make a brittish breakfast of pan cakes and many such stuff . How i did that ? By putting my laptop on refrigerator in my kitchen , searching google recipie , watching  youtube video of cookery  demonstration. while listening to some song using winamp . It  was Fun ! Try it . 

By any standard I am still a loner and I have a long way to go . But it hurts me a little less now and I am fighitng it . I dare say that now there is some fun in this .I write this so that you can also look at it in same way . I hope that these rants are usefull for you . 

Thanks For reading a Loooooong Post . 


Keshi said...

Excellent post Prashant!

I could relate to alot of things here...Loneliness has become a part of me and I think Im dealing with it in quite a healthy manner :)

**Remember Relatioship is not a cure of Lonesomeness

Spot on! Some ppl think hvn a partner or friends is the answer to Loneliness. Its not. Its something that external things cant solve.

We all hv to deal with it from within and learn to be comfy with u stated.

tnxx for this great post!


Prashant Singh said...

Thanks Keshi , Glad that you liked it .good luck for your quest for being at peace with your own self .

Anonymous said...

hey great post ..i think a lot of this is very new and perhaps ours i the first generation facing it ....our parents didnt really go thru stuff like this so there are no established ways to deal with it ....though for the next generation i guess we might have some relevant advice ;)

keep the faith

Rohini said...

In the words of Morrie," Learn the way to die, and you will learn the way to live."
When you feel an emotion, be it pain, happiness or whatever, live it fully, soak in it, know it inside out. Then when the next time you go through it you will know...this is what I am feeling. I know what I am feeling. And you will be over with it. Moving on to the next one....the next page...if you will.
Great read Kaku.
Thanks... and this is not for writing this post.

Prashant Singh said...

@Nishant : Thanks . You are right we are the first one to deal with it . Too many "First" for our generation right ?

Prashant Singh said...

@Rohini : Thanks Da' .Wishing you all the happiness in world . :)

satpalparmar said...

Nice post Prasant.

BTW you didn,t mention what feeling you name 'lonesomeness'. I mean ther are many situations and feeling associated with the one define it depend on individual's stage of life and how one preceive his/her association with the world and him.

Ok. lets take example when a new engineering graduate join corporate life. The day he get his first salary he feel liberted. he indulge himelf in world and enjoy everything it has to offer.. eat like pig...drink like fish...and make merry. for next 1 year he is richest man on the money,got love, got friends and plenty of time to enjoy all this.

Two years down the line situation start taking different turn...friends get pressure take toll on your fun life...who got time for more year and you hit nadir.....friends got married and hence no longer available on reach most productive phase of your career where can to join 'the league' or take premature retiremnent by calling your boss a**hole (i mean you had enough of him. right?) wil have lots fo sidhharata moment wr u start asking 'meaning of life' questions?

More time you spent alone talking to self, over analysing every decision you made, very opportunity you lost, comparing youself with everyone,thinking about how to talk to that cute chick in logix park tower b , more strongeryou feel lonely inside.

Solution (or shall i call them escapes)? Indulgence (you think).Gym.Music claasses....But dude that wil not work.Day will come when you realise that you are running away from yourself. Your cool solution is nothing more then another escape.

So does this means there is no cure ? I do not know. But i know one thing that may subdue this feeling.

Acceptance. Accept how you feel.Accept it by writing about it. Accept it by not try to escape from it.

Sometime I think lonesomeness is a indictor of something....that may be completion of some cyle of our life..may be this is to tell us we are no longer part of rat race...may be it tell us its ok to be a tell us you longer have to do thing other want us to do no longer have to impress other... i mean have just accept how you feel and do that you know wil work about you ddint tried beooz its so damn hard.

-Satpal Parmar

Prashant Singh said...


"I mean ther are many situations and feeling associated with the one define it depend on individual's stage of life and how one preceive his/her association with the world and him."

What i have written here is my experience . as they say in Medicine. different symptom can stem from single cause whats the definition of Lonesomeness ? as i mention in my article that its a state of mind so i guess its construct manifest differently for everyone. Though i am no expert still i believe that common ingredients are a sense of inadequacy ,longing and vacuum.

Day will come when you realise that you are running away from yourself. Your cool solution is nothing more then another escape.

Aparently that day hasn't came yet . I will surely write about it if i ever feel that way .

I feel that you missed the point of the post. Its not about doing gym , cooking,music etc for the sake of doing it . i love photography and slashdot too i din't mentioned them.

Much of the suggestion i made were related to having perspective . once you learn to see thing in proper perspective you can apply it in any area of your choice or interest.

Lastly speaking of your suggestion to accept . I think i accepted it but not as something inevitable, not by being nihilistic .

I accepted it as something which is wrong and problematic. something which needs to be fixed . something which CAN be fixed .and I choose to fix it in right way . not by some short term solution .I saw it as an opportunity. you are free to see it as you like . I am too young to accept things as they come . Its not my style. If you see my struggle as a escape than That's your cross to carry .

To each his Own !

the who said...

I've seen many posts/write-ups about relationships (with others and with self) and most smack of knowledge but not wisdom. This was different...
There is this line from a movie that i often use.."Picture abhi baaki hai"
And it works like Ram-baan for me.
You look around and see people of all kinds- happy, i-phone-flashing, hubby-arm-clinging etc. etc. and just as you're about to compare you tell yourself "Picture abhi baaki hai" :)
Not that you wish harm to anyone. Just that you realize the evanescence of both happiness and joy. Sounds straight out of a Deepak Chopra book, but it's worked for me.
Like everyone else, there was a time when i too believed that it's happening to me only.. But in retrospect it wasn't such a bad thing to believe that. Because when i believed that it was happening to me only, i also started to believe that i must be stronger than everyone else and in that make-believe i think i actually turned out to be a) stronger than what i was and b) not completely dependent on others to be happy but found my peace within myself.. And that is the most valuable lesson that one can learn in one's life..
Jesus! your post brought out so many thoughts that the "comment" has become a "thesis" :)

Prashant Singh said...

@The_Who : Thanks for the kind words. and yup ..I Like that line too. :)

chhavi said...

Wow!! ..that was interesting :) are you still the same or have you moved miles ahead with your fight ....

Some points were like ...I could see myself there.

Great post :)

Prashant Singh said...

@chhavi: Thanks. I am glad that you can identify yourself with the post. hope its useful.

about status of my fight? Its going on and Its fun . its not over yet .:)

Yet Another Loner said...

A friend forwarded me this link.Iread the post twice and wrote a long comment here in the praise of your post but decided to delete it . i will say only one thing .
Thanks .Thank you very much for writing this. you have helped me more than you can realize.

Prashant Singh said...

@YAL Thanks.

Mini Subramanian said...

Thanks for the wonderful post Prasanth!

I am almost out of the loneliness stage, but just want to tell you that I too used the same methodology :) , just that I took to Oil painting and violin classes :)and more of outings and visiting places like never before!

P.S : My paintings are so beautiful; I praise the hell n heaven together for the breakup!! If not for that my creativity would have gone waste.Each time I look at my paintings.....what a sense of pride I have! :)

Anonymous said...

What a post . Perfect. I needed reading this. Thanks for sharing this pearl of wisdom.

Shikha said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shikha said...

Wonderful post, and very helpful to all those who are living a life of solitude.
There are some solitude which does not require any heart breaks or other sadness. Just that, you simply never find a person who vibrated on the same frequency. Yes, just like you, I too spent time on myself and I am so proud of being my own best friend.

While reading this post, I have felt that sheer excitement you felt while you were writing it. It showed in your writing. :-)
Gyaan baat ne se badta hain, so will be doing that for this post.