B1 Intermediate UK 649 Folder Collection
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Because our culture places such a high value
on sociability, it can be deeply awkward to

have to explain how much – at certain points
– we need to be alone. We may try to pass

off our desire as something work-related:
people generally understand a need to finish

off a project. But in truth, it's a far
less respectable and more profound desire

that is driving us on: unless we are alone,
we are at risk of forgetting who we are. We,

the ones who are asphyxiated without periods
by ourselves, take other people very seriously

– perhaps more seriously than those in the
uncomplicated ranks of the endlessly gregarious.

We listen closely to stories, we give ourselves
to others, we respond with emotion and empathy.

But as a result, we cannot keep swimming in
company indefinitely. At a certain point,

we have had enough of conversations that take
us away from our own thought processes, enough

of external demands that stop us heeding our
inner tremors, enough of the pressure for

superficial cheerfulness that denies the legitimacy
of our latent inner melancholy – and enough

of robust common-sense that flattens our peculiarities
and less well-charted appetites. We need to

be alone because life among other people unfolds
too quickly. The pace is relentless: the jokes,

the insights, the excitements. There can sometimes
be enough in five minutes of social life to

take up an hour of analysis. It is a quirk
of our minds that not every emotion that impacts

us is at once fully acknowledged, understood
or even – as it were – truly felt. After

time among others, there are a myriad of sensations
that exist in an 'unprocessed' form within

us. Perhaps an idea that someone raised made
us anxious, prompting inchoate impulses for

changes in our lives. Perhaps an anecdote
sparked off an envious ambition that is worth

decoding and listening to in order to grow.
Maybe someone subtly fired an aggressive dart

at us, and we haven't had the chance to
realise we are hurt. We need some quiet time

to console ourselves by formulating an explanation
of where the nastiness might have come from.

We are more vulnerable and tender-skinned
than we're encouraged to imagine. By retreating

into ourselves, it looks as if we are the
enemies of others, but our solitary moments

are in reality a homage to the richness of
social existence. Unless we've had time

alone, we can't be who we would like to
be around our fellow humans. We won't have

original opinions. We won't have lively
and authentic perspectives. We'll be – in

the wrong way – a bit like everyone else.
We're drawn to solitude not because we despise

humanity but because we are properly responsive
to what the company of others entails. Extensive

stretches of being alone may in reality be
a precondition for knowing how to be a better

friend and a properly attentive companion.
Our Calm prompt cards can help us to find

serenity despite daily anxieties and frustrations,
to find out more, click on the link now.

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The Need to be Alone

649 Folder Collection
Rain published on April 3, 2018
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