When no one is around

There's growth in suffering in solitude.

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There’s a famous thought experiment that raises questions among philosophers: “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” In line with this, I asked myself: “If you’re at your lowest point in the darkest corner of your room and no one is around to hear it, does your grief count?”

We know for sure that denying the pain is as unhealthy as someone trying to minimize it – acknowledging it is in no way a sign of weakness. Everyone has his or her own story of going through hurting. Some days, we go through suffering just by ourselves, preferring to endure the sorrow alone. For others, keeping it to themselves is part of who they are. We can all agree that we’ve experienced going through suffering alone or at least dealing with things on our own. In response, we can’t simply invalidate the people who do so and downplay the moments when we find ourselves alone.

Now, let me remind you that’s also important to understand that life is hard for everyone. This is why the idea of listening to others has been given importance. It’s good that it mobilizes us to be more compassionate to our neighbors. However, while it teaches us that there is no shame in asking for help, it may also fuel our tendency for selfishness. “I’m in pain. I’m hurting. Cater to my needs. Listen to me. Reach out to me”. We wait for people to come, and in the process, might end up finding ourselves in distress.

When no one is around to attend to you for whatever reason, please know that your grief is not in vain. I’m not proposing that you should silently suffer on your own or start putting yourself up in a bubble. Rather, I’m telling you that your grieving still matters when no one is around. It counts because you allow yourself to be seen by you. You give time listening to yourself, and in return, it leads you to the deep, undiscovered parts of your humanity.

Needless to say, no man is an island. I’m beyond grateful to have thoughtful and dependable friends whom I can count on. But honestly, I have a deep longing for people who can be with me all the way. Even so, people can only do so much. It’s okay to reach out for help, but there are circumstances in which help is not practically available. Our friends would not always be beside us. It’s difficult to hear this, but sometimes, the kindest act that we can do for ourselves is to start learning that we have to bear patiently with our own burdens. There’s growth in suffering in solitude.

Make room for every heartache by listening to yourself, by having someone to hold on to, and also, by listening to those who also weep around you.

You’ll realize that you are not alone in this vast array of dust, even if it feels like no one is around.

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