On dancing and crying alone

The importance of finding solace in solitude

Will Nelson, Coumnist

It was a bad day. The kind of day where anything you put on is uncomfortable and your coffee just tastes like the eggs and sausage you ate too soon after brushing your teeth. Posters fell from walls, bricks stuck up at tripping angles and documents took just a little too long to load. On top of all of that, I was existentially frustrated and emotionally exhausted.

I’m too young to turn to rotgut whiskey. Besides, it wouldn’t have felt right on a weeknight.

Instead, I went out to dance alone in the street.

Being alone gets one hell of a bad rap, but it really shouldn’t. These days, it feels like half of everything we do is alone, and, as I’ve written about previously, that can really take a toll on a person’s mental health.

But even without a pandemic, solitude is something that we should learn to not just tolerate but to appreciate. 

Dancing alone in the street is a habit I picked up back in high school as a way to cope with stress, and it’s transformed into some kind of self-expression. I know that sounds like the lyrics to a failed pop album about a bad breakup from the early 2000s, but for me, it’s everything.

Spinning, jumping and twisting my way down Pascal at 2 am like Ren McCormack in “Footloose” is beyond cathartic; it’s transcendent. I never feel more lucid, more alive than those moments. It’s like the rest of my life was in black and white. 

I’ve tried doing it with other people, but it’s never the same. That feverish hysteria demands solitude.

Another solitary activity that I really get a lot out of is crying. When I tell people that I spent my Friday night weeping to Sarah McLaughlin on a park bench, it usually elicits croons of sympathy, but I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Feeling sad isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and it’s certainly better than feeling nothing at all. 

Emotions are like house spiders– you’ll never be able to kill them all, so it’s best to just learn how to live with them. They’re meant to be felt, and trying to prevent them from happening isn’t just an exercise in futility, it’s downright dangerous. 

Maybe it’s just the toxic masculinity that eats at my body like a tapeworm, but I have a lot of trouble crying in front of other people. I’d like to be able to, but at this point, it just doesn’t happen.

I’ve genuinely come to enjoy crying alone, though. It really makes you scrape out the back closets of your soul. Sometimes you have to gotta clean that shit out; it gets musty in there and that’s not good for your mental health.

When the stoplights start shimmering through tears, it almost feels like life is cupping my face in her hands and whispering that everything is going to be alright. And it usually is.

Now more than ever, it is absolutely critical that we become comfortable with ourselves. It’s easy to rely on our friends for support, but there’s no telling how much longer we’re going to be able to see one another in person. For all we know, COVIDovid-19 will brutally snatch us all away from our community next week. 

The phrase “be your own best friend” immediately sets off the cliche sirens in my mind (which, interestingly, sound exactly like the sirens from ”Kill Bill”), but I think it’s an immensely important sentiment. 

There will never be another person that you spend as much time with as yourself. I don’t care if they’re your “ride-or-die,” you’re still probably going to go to take a piss alone sometimes. No matter how committed your relationships, the only person who’s going to be there with you until the end is you. I really hope you get along.

Don’t just love yourself because it makes your life easier either. Love yourself because you deserve it. I didn’t mean for this article to get this schmaltzy and twee, but I really do mean it. Any person reading this is deserving of love, especially from yourself.

Please, take some time this week– clear off some space in your Google calendar– and just be with yourself. Feel your feelings, cry, dance, take a massive bite out of the intoxicating richness of life, and do it alone.