Why is ONE Such a Bad Number In This Society
The Dreaded Words- Being Alone
When people are asked what is the worst thing they could be, they usually answer that it is being alone. Most people view being alone as akin to death. In this society, there are negative connotations associated with being alone.
From early childhood, we have been inoculated with the idea that to be normal is to be sociable and to be part of the group or at least a couple. To be part of a group and/or couple gives one a sense of security and belonging. The average number of children a couple has is two children. Why? So their child can have a companion and be a couple of sorts.
We associate being alone with very worst in attributes. For example, people who elect to have one child are often considered unthinking and selfish, not being concerned about the "wellbeing" of their child. Only children are still viewed in this society as being alone and weird because they do not have a sibling. People are under the misperception that only children "grow up alone and without companionship". Only children are furthermore viewed as having no backup and network. Many parents, who are quite satisfied with having only one child, often have mixed emotions about the subject because of societal pressure that a child should never be alone and to have a sibling in order to "feel complete".
People often would comment to parents of a single child why would they want to impose such a "lonely" life on ther child. They would often state that these parents are "depriving" their only child of a "valuable" sibling experience as if having two or more children was the only legimitate parenting experience. Parents of only children are often subjected to this invasive advise from strangers constantly.
Yes, one has a quite ominous connotation in this society. Children are pushed to have associations and friends from an early age. The mantra is the more friends and associates, the better. Children who are more solitary by nature are often viewed as abnormal and in need of interventive counseling. The thinking is that children are not comfortable with being alone and they constantly need companionship although this is often not true.
Not only parents of onlies but onlies themselves. Only children are consistenly made to feel incomplete in this society. They are constantly asked if they wanted a sister and/or brother as if that was the most important thing in the world. Only children are quite misunderstood because of their unique psychology. People just cannot fathom only children because they are indeed different from other children.
Only children are constantly asked if they are L-O-N-E-L-Y and other ludicrous questions regarding their status. They are often looked at in askance because they are comfortable being alone for long periods of time without any difficulty. They also know how to entertain themselves without much fanfare. I remember as a child when I was spending summers with my maternal grandmother in South Carolina, I was contentedly playing alone. I saw nothing strange about this. Well, one of my maternal aunts, who was one of ten children, snidely remarked that I was playing by myself as if it was a bad thing. Well, not at all.
My mother, the oldest of ten, often wondered why I preferred to be alone especially as a teenager and college student. She was consistently wanting to get me involved in a myriad of activities. I simply was not interested. I relished my alone time. This was quite hard for her to understand as she was never an only child and could not understand the richness of being an only child in his/her solitude. She had the groupthink mentality as befitting someone with siblings.
Only children often have well meaning folks being unnecessarily intrusive, wanting them to spend less time being alone and more time socializing with peers. Well, we onlies are quite comfortable being alone and it gives us time to read, create, and indulge in other solitary hobbies. People just consider that child wishing to be alone as such a horror and weird. Well, it is not!
Children are often rated on their ability to socialize and be part of a group. Oftentimes, children who prefer to be alone are ostracized by teachers because of their low sociability quotient. I remember in elementary school, a mother was bemoaning the fact that her daughter preferred being alone and reading to socializing like other children. Never mind the fact that her daughter was rated gifted and gifted children have different interests than non-gifted chilidren. This mother was simply obsessed in making her child "more normal" instead of appreciating her unique gifts.
Children who are more solitary by nature are derided by their peers and teachers alike. It seems that being sociable is more important than being academically prodigious. The name of the game in schools is to be as popular as possible. This result in children wanting to join a group at all costs for to be alone is uncool.
In the adolescent years, a child who is solitary by nature is often programmed to be part of a group. Tween and teen culture is often a crowd culture where groupthink is emphasized and individualism is severely downplayed. It is the rare strong tween and teen who view nothing wrong with being solitary when the occasion arises. Tweens and teens are not only pressured by their peers to belong to a group and not to be solitary but parents are influencial in this regard.
It is the goal and desire of many parents that their tweens and teens have a "normal" adolescent life of socializing, having lots of friends, and a myriad of activities. However, there are some tweens and teens who are quite comfortable having either few, little, or no friends. These adolescents are quite happy being alone and content to indulge in their hobbies. Many of these tweens and teens are quite prodigious and find such average adolescent activities to be quite futile! There are some parents who exert such pressure on their more solitary adolescent to conform to the prevailing adolescent culture, that these tweens and teens begin to doubt their innate self-worth and to be uncomfortable in their own essence.
In this groupthink culture, adolescents are exhorted not to be alone. So many of them associate being alone with being this very word- a L-O-S-E-R! As a result of this negative and pejorative connotation to being alone, many tweens and teens often go through dangerous and ridiculous lengths to have friends and belong. Tweens and teens who elect to be more solitary in nature are often derided and/or worse, bullied because of their refusal to conform to the adolescent groupthink culture.
Tweens and teens who are more solitary in nature are often referred to interventive counseling by parents, teachers, and other "concerned" authority figures because it is not considered normal and acceptable for tweens and teens to be such. In their eyes, tweens and teens are supposed to be gregarious and have lots of friends and associates. It is not unusual for parents to express "concern" regarding their more solitary tween and/or teen child because of the parents' belief that their children is not part of the program.
This animus against being alone and not part of a group and couple continues into adulthood. People have been inundated to get married and/or be part of a committed relationship. Even though singlehood is more accepted now than ever, it is still derided in this couple conscious society. Everywhere on the internet, there are countless adverstisements for "lonely" singles. There are even clubs where "lonely" singles can meet each other to hook up.
Singlehood is viewed quite negatively. Single people are often viewed as being incomplete and lackng a partner. They are further thought to be lonely and pathetic. They are inundated that their lives are often meaningless because they "have no one to share it with." All you have to do is announce your single status and some people roll out the pity party for you.
Single people are oftentimes viewed as pariahs and as pitiful. People want to fix you up with other "available" people. Your parents and relatives often bemoan your fate, making negative remarks as to "who is going to look after you when you get old" and other such inane propositions. These so-called well meaning people furthermore assert that a bad marriage/committed relationship is better than being alone! How inanely quaint indeed!
While the societal consensus view being solitary and alone as quite negative, there are many benefits to being such. Alone time gives us time to explore and learn who we actually are. It gives us time to think and have a respite from the world. Being alone cultivates our imagination and creativity. Aloneness and solitude further enables us to discover our strongest assests and use them to reach our utmost potential.
Aloneness and solitude builds our self-esteem in that we are indeed worthy people. When one is comfortable being alone and in solitude, one develops a fierce independence and becomes comfortable in one's own skin. One does not become excessively needy, falling for any relationship that comes along. One is quite comfortable being with the one true person that he/she loves-himeself/herself! This is indeed a great blessing to behold!
In conclusion, society has inundated people that it is somewhat abnormal to be solitary and alone. We are been inoculated with the "fact" that we are social animals. From early childhood, there is great emphasis on being sociable and having as many friends as possible and to be alone is something that is not desired. This inundation continues through adolescence to the adult years. According to the groupthink societal consensus, being alone and solitary is viewed as strange and weird to downright pathological.
However, there are benefits to being alone. Aloneness allows us time to recollect and recoup from societal pressures. It also allows us time to discover who we are, our assets, and how to use our assets to achieving the utmost in human potential. Many of our most creative, imaginative, and artistic people are solitary types who use this to creative some of these gifts to change and create a better society. Being alone is not a bad thing-in fact, it is quite fantastic!
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© 2011 Grace Marguerite Williams
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