The phrase “alone in a crowd” has some pretty sad connotations. The idea that even in a room full of people, you can still feel isolated and lonely…it’s a tragic feeling. However, recently I feel like I’ve discovered that there’s something kind of beautiful about it. Recently I had a full day of just me. A day adventure by myself in a crowded city.
I went to a lookout point with a breakfast burrito and some iced coffee (from Cofax) and was met with a few tourists. I went to The Broad museum and stood in line for about an hour with another 50 people then walked around a crowded museum with endless chatter. Then went to grab some food and went to a nearby beach where there were groups of friends, couples, and a few too many models having their photograph taken against the scenic backdrop. I was surrounded by people all day but had no one next to me.
There’s something beautiful about having no one but yourself to please. Taking the wrong turn or being stuck in traffic don’t seem so bad when you have no one there to turn to and complain to or apologize to. Having nothing but your own thoughts as you walk through a crowd is sort of liberating. It’s the realization that happiness and feeling fulfilled and grateful and content is possible amidst a busy and crowded life. There’s always going to be noise, and crowds, and opinions, and work and stress. But as long as you can come back to that place, that quiet place in your head…then you’ll always feel grounded. Realizing that the most important person to make happy is yourself feels like an obvious sentiment but it’s so easily overlooked. We can’t be good partners, good friends or good employees if we’re constantly concerned with other people’s reactions and happiness.
That’s a tough one for me, I’m constantly worried about how other people are perceiving my actions. If people think I’m being nice enough, understanding enough, “good” enough. I know I shouldn’t but it’s my anxiety ridden default. These moments when I’m by myself with my thoughts in a busy room, remind me that there is no one else’s standards that I should be trying to meet. If I love hanging with myself all day then it doesn’t really matter what anyone else thinks because no one knows me as well as I know me. The people that do like me, love me or tolerate me…well that’s just icing on the cake.
That sense of independence of operating alone and being to make yourself happy in the midst of traffic, and smog and noise is unbelievably liberating. The next time I’m feeling insecure, or unheard, or overwhelmed I’ll have to remember that I am in charge of what makes me happy. I have a place in my mind that I can come back to, where it’s quiet and peaceful. And that place is accessible in a crowded room or by myself.