Sally Rooney recently spoke about the 'delusion' of being a self-sustaining individual.
She strongly opposes the belief that only you can change yourself, that loving yourself is sufficient and that you don’t need anyone else to love you.
Human relationships are not as optional as black tie at the Artscape.
One cannot step outside the intricate network of human relationships, as it connects and sustains us. Yes, social media sometimes champions self-sufficiency because, in part, it allows us to control the narrative, to disassociate from the instability of some relationships, rendering us above reproach. But when we say ‘no’ to connections are we really just entering a combative relationship with the world?
In 2019, I travelled to Budapest and Slovenia for my ‘European Summer’. I felt it was part of my personal brand: a semi well-dressed gal destined to conquer ruin bars and the green heart of Europe, open to any (of her own) suggestions. I craved a solo adventure where I was to be the main character - and I was positive that I’d get so much out of it.
But after a couple of days of travelling and seeing many, many beautiful forests, rivers, and eating a handsome bounty of gelato, I realised that I haven’t physically spoken to anyone in 2 days. This made me kind of sad.
This feeling was again triggered during Lockdown Level 1, when I wondered whether listening to my own thoughts all day, everyday, sitting in my studio apartment in Gardens, was the best thing. I always tended towards voluntary self-isolation, but what would the long-term effects of this forced quarantine be?
How can one grow without others?
If I'm alone most of the time, then who will challenge me? Who will inform me of their opinions or irritate me with their behaviour to the point where I’d crank up the volume of whatever The Weeknd song I’m listening to, letting the sweet noise slowly disintegrate my already fragile eardrum.
Simon Sinek shared this on Instagram recently: ‘The value of emotions comes from sharing them, not simply having them’. Thinking back to Budapest, I had to tell Instagram about my #solodate with the Gellért Hill overlooking the city. It was breathtaking, unmatched and delightful in every way, but without some tiny audience of people/followers whatever, watching what I saw, that experience could have felt unvalidated.
Do things alone, I know I will. Have weekends where you see no one and talk to nobody. Introvert the hell out of winter as you hibernate beneath your duvet rewatching GOT for the 6th time. But do not opt-out of the opportunity to grow, to learn from others and to discover new relationships, that, though scary and daunting at first, might add so much value to your life.
Since meeting my boyfriend, whose family is rather ginormous and tight-knit, I’ve realised that I don’t have to take on the responsibility anymore of making myself happy all the time. By leaning into their love and the love of others I’ve been able to see changes in myself that I like and in turn want to see for those being weighed down by the overwhelming pressure of loving themselves.