How to Be Alone

The Monk by the Sea, Caspar David Friedrich

The Monk by the Sea, Caspar David Friedrich

If your heart is bleeding, make the best of it. There is heat in freezing, be a testament.

I watched this video by Tanya Davis on How To Be Alone

It's been almost 3 weeks since I came back home to Malaysia.

A big part of my identity is tied to the US, I close my eyes and I'm back in my apartment, back in the library where I used to take breaks and read design books, where I would take walks daily and watch sunsets. When I was in Cali, I could create plans in the weekends with my friends to explore a new spot. I could go to meetups and hackathons and talk to startups founders.

I miss it a lot still. Or I miss the people. I found it hard at times to not be with my friends anymore. I felt like my body was here but my heart wasn't. Like I was missing a big piece of myself. These overwhelming emotions morphs from sadness into anger, and into grief and regret. I get stuck in thought loops that I can't seem to get out of. I often have deep cravings and bursts of longing for social interaction, to be able to see them face to face, to feel their eyes locked on mine, to hear their voice and their laughter, to be there and notice when they get frustrated, when they get anxious, when they're happy. But I realize that it's not possible anymore.

I used to be fine with being alone. I actually enjoyed it during lockdown in 2020. But after spending time with friends in the US, it made it hard to be alone. I never realized how much close friendships could change my internal makeup, how much they could inspire me, influence me, and help me be more selfless. I'm constantly in my head, and they help me drag me out of that space, and into theirs, and it reminds me that most of my pain isn't real, that there is more to life than this, and that there is beauty in everything. Some friendships are addicting, they make you more playful and you're excited to see them. Life becomes more colorful.

I spent the past two days at home. I have no job and no school. I live with my family, whom I do love a lot, but I feel alone, in the sense that they don't understand me. They're different from me in a lot of ways and sometimes talking to them feels very strained and stranger-like. But they're very accepting and loving, which is really all you need from your family. I asked for a room for myself with a wall full of art and plants and a cat, and now I have the former, the latter is still in debates. I'm writing this in my new room with (almost) everything set up. I was complaining a lot about the noise and the humidity and how I didn't have my own space. I have it now. Now it's time to focus on my work. I have a lot of work to accomplish. They're mostly my writing work, preparations for potential grad school interviews, side projects, learning swift, and upskilling in AI and ML so I can be an AI engineer earning 500k USD one day. I still get bouts of longing and sadness which is pretty distracting, and a lot of dread and bitterness with my health issues, but I get by with YouTube streaming and bouncy and loud Korean songs, biking 7.77 miles on the stationary bike everyday ~6pm, posting on Twitter, and the friends who I still chat with through text.

I'm sure things will get better, I'm still adjusting to change, and accepting it. I have to actively remind myself to reject cynicism and remain optimistic.