A Loner And Proud Of It

In a recent blog post, Cristian Mihai talks about being alone. His argument is that it’s something all artists have to do whether they like it or not, a price they have to pay for their creativity. However, the final words of the post made me sit up and shout “NO”: We don’t want to be alone, we never do, but some of us have to. This is plain wrong.

I have never understood the generic presumption that we humans are a social species and we therefore need other people around us to give our lives meaning. No man is an island, remote unto himself as John Donne’s poem has it. And that anyone who prefers their own company is somehow weird, a misfit and an outsider; someone who can’t be trusted, and must be up to no good. Look at how the media covers serial killers: they always use the word “loner” in the most pejorative way possible, as if it’s conflated with “paedophile” or “terrorist”. An extreme example perhaps, but it’s revealing.

Hard though it may be for some people to accept, some of us do like being alone. This does not make us weird or killers or child molesters. We just don’t conform, we are not sheep. Nor does it mean we have no friends. I have always preferred my own company and make no apology for it. If people want to label me as a weirdo, that’s up to them, but doing so says more about them than it ever will about me. Insofar as anyone is ever truly comfortable in their own skin, I am very comfortable with being a loner, with being solitary.

This is me, take it or leave it. I’ll end with a poem I wrote a few years back:

“No man is an island, remote unto himself,”
Oh yeah, who says so?
Which continent am I a part of then,
When they’re all floating and colliding
Spewing fire in the subduction zones?
It only takes a Krakatoa or two
To blow it all to hell, not
A continent to be a part of then.
That I could shut my door on it, a
Slam in its face with contempt,
Dive into music or a bottle, or
Under the duvet with the one I love.
Then, only then, I am an island,
Remote unto myself, in my love’s arms,
The world with its clashing continents
Banished to distant memory,
A noise down the hall
Behind a closed door.
Krakatoa blow your top,
I won’t hear you know.

A good book on this subject is Anneli Rufus’ Party of One

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