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The Trials of Being Alone After a Big Change in Your Life

We all have to learn to be by ourselves, whether it's after a breakup, a move or a divorce -- but how, exactly?

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Two years ago, the video  “How to Be Alone” starring writer Tanya Davis and her poem about the “freedom” of being by yourself — eating, dancing, reading, hiking — went viral. The video got more than 4.5 million hits: Clearly, her sweet and simple advice (for example, “We could start with the acceptable places, the bathroom, the coffee shop, the library”) resonated with people. As she says in the four-minute clip, “Society is afraid of alonedom, like lonely hearts are wasting away in basements, like people must have problems if, after a while, nobody is dating them. But lonely is a freedom that breathes easy and weightless and lonely is healing if you make it.”

It’s odd that being alone requires any instruction. As Ford so exquisitely and painfully put it: We’re born alone, we die alone and “deep within our souls we live alone” — but it’s one of life’s many poetic ironies that we couldn’t be more together in our aloneness.

Tracy Clark-Flory is a staff writer at Salon. Follow@tracyclarkflory on Twitter.

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