Reflections and Healing

Being alone

by Ademola Anjorin

On university, loneliness and capitalism

University is oftentimes isolating. If I wasn’t on the exec and/or active in different societies I imagine that I would be really lonely.

I enjoy being involved with lots of stuff on campus because it gives me something to do. If not for that, I feel like no-one would be checking for me.

I know plenty of students who enjoy their own personal space and enjoy being in their room 24/7 but I can’t relate to that reality. I hate being unnecessarily alone. I do like doing my own thing but still being in the presence of other people whilst completing my own task.

Maybe university will teach me how to not feel lonely when being alone. Either way, I think this is a reflection on neoliberal society where there is so much emphasis on the individual. We are socialised into the idea that it is beneficial and economically profitable to be self-centred, self-focused and self-driven individuals (even though we exist better as collectives).

Capitalism is exploitative both in theory (the profit incentive) and in practice (imperialism, cheap labour, environmental devastation), but also it seems to have a profound effect on our interpersonal human relations. We become really preoccupied with ourselves and with marketised ideas of success that we spend so much time ‘bettering ourselves’ and ‘working towards our goals’ that we do not think about how our contributions can better the collective. We take so much ‘personal’ time because we become wrapped up in the idea of seeing ourselves as individuals rather than seeking out a unit. The only units that are endorsed by disability-exclusionary cis-heteronormative capitalist society is the male-female relationship which in turn becomes the traditional nuclear family after a period of time. Alternative units such as chosen families, housing co-ops and co-parenting groups in queer communities aren’t considered.

I think there might be an art to being able to live a solitary life and still be happy. In an increasingly solitary human existence, it seems like being resistant to loneliness might be an advantage, a survival trait. To me, this is not an art that I would like to master.

A big part of believing in utopias is having a romanticised vision of the future. A utopia I envisage is one where we can enjoy our moments of solitude, but still always have the option of being in the presence of others. I don’t know how the mechanisms of how this would work, but wouldn’t it be glorious?

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