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Blog Posts

don’t listen to them—you don’t have to come out of your room

Christina Levy

 photograph by john-mark kuznietsov

photograph by john-mark kuznietsov

we are surrounded by a lot of noise. if it isn’t for family members always telling us what we should or should not do and how to do it, it's media screaming at us that we are lacking something and need to spend just a little more of our hard earned money to be satisfied. it’s a wonder then, why so many of us seem to be running towards something without fully knowing what that thing is and whether or not we truly need it. is there even a place to be still and alone with the one who knows us best—ourselves? in a world of facebook live and live tweeting, have we forgotten how to be alone and are we teaching the upcoming generation to be afraid of solitude? think about it. when was the last time you went for a walk without your phone and didn’t feel like you were missing out on something? yea, i thought so.

i’m not talking about loneliness now, that’s different. there is a kind of je ne sais quoi found in being alone. see, loneliness is the feeling that we get when we are alone and we take it upon ourselves to wallow in our lonesomeness. we sit and focus on the absence of others instead of our own presence. i prefer to do the latter. one of my favorite contemporary poets, warsan shire, expresses this best in her poem titled, “solitude.” while the piece is mainly focused on love, she really hit the nail on the head with a few of her lines. go ahead and read through it.

SOLITUDE

god, my alone feels so good, but lately i’ve been craving something more, something deeper
i want love. but not just any kind of love, no, i want a love so deep it’d make the ocean jealous.
but i’ll only have you if you’re sweeter than my solitude. you must love me for everything i’m worth
and then some.
start with my eyes, look into them like you want to know all the good, bad, and anything beyond. from my eyes go to my mind, love me for everything i know and love me just as much to teach me what i do not.
hold me in your arms, and love me for everything i am, from my breasts to my thighs, and even the
scars that others have left behind
but tell me if you’re not up for it… not that you don’t want me but rather you can’t handle me.
and please don’t say, “i won’t be like those other dudes and break your heart.”
you see my solitude has always been sweet, and during that time i learned to love myself before i
could learn to love anyone else.
give me the love that i’ve been craving, make the ocean jealous. fall for my eyes without knowing me just yet
and then kiss me like you want to be loved just as much
remember that i want to be loved as deep as the ocean, but remember that i am like the ocean
i can slip through your fingers, but manage to hold up an army of ships
kiss me, hold me, love me, but tell me if you’re not up for it
i’ll only have you if you’re sweeter than my solitude.
— warsan shire
 photograph by guilherme stecanella

photograph by guilherme stecanella

like shire, the time i spend alone trumps the time i give to anyone else. i’m laughing at myself as i re-read this in my head because of how selfish i sound. let me explain though. yes, i am very selfish when it comes to myself. however, without trying to sound like the victim, that is due to the fact that it took me years to truly value my authentic self. she is still fragile and i will not have anyone attempt to hold me if their hands have yet to learn the art of holding fragile things. i will share anything with another person but as soon as I am asked to share my space and time, i easily become defensive. i value quiet and organized spaces where my mind and spirit has the freedom to maneuver. in fact, majority of my undergraduate years were spent in my dorm room, partially because i’m more introverted than extroverted. however, it was largely due to the fact that everywhere else was just too loud. i appreciated group forums but what usually happened was that the majority voice always seemed to dictate how everyone else should feel. for me, i preferred listening quietly then bringing the conversation to a smaller and more intimate setting—a place where i could hear myself think and come to my own conclusions.

that’s the thing, the value in solitude is the ability to listen, reflect and to learn. it’s the ability to sit down, light a few candles, and just be. we cannot get so caught up in what everyone else is doing that we forget to give ourselves what we are entitled to. yes, you are entitled to yourself. you are entitled to your space. you are entitled to your peace and serenity. YOU are entitled to the love that only YOU can give to yourself. shire addressed this same thing in her poem when she writes, “… you see my solitude has always been sweet, and during that time i learned to love myself…”  i think that the crucial message here is the fact that we learn to love ourselves. we are born and pushed out into a world of differences. one day, we are being told that we should appreciate our curves but the next day, we are forcing those same curves into clothes that aren’t made for them. in our time alone, we give ourselves the courage to be as we are and truly learn that whoever that person is, curvy, thin, broad shouldered, kinky hair, that person is loved. once we know that for ourselves, we become more confident in owning up to who we already are and begin sharing that with the world.                   

so please, don’t run from the idea of being alone. remember that even in a room full of people you can still feel alone. it isn’t so much about being in the presence of a full room as much as it is about being full of your own presence. the right ones will find you, but until then, take the time to build yourself.

 

peace, love and blessings.