William Deresiewicz brings up a few great points in “The End of Solitude”, but the one that strikes me the most is the idea of what the contemporary self wants. During the period of Romanticism, the soul or the self wanted solitude. Now, however, the self wants to be recognized, connected, and visible to the point where we are sometimes afraid of solitude. One of Deresiewicz’s students admitted she hated being alone so much that she’d “sit with a friend even when she had a paper to write”. I can’t quite relate to the last part: as an aspiring novelist, I crave solitude and need to be alone to really focus on my writing. However, I don’t always crave solitude.
In fact, when I’m not writing, I hate being alone. Aside from the commute to and from UCF, I won’t go anywhere alone if I can avoid it, even the grocery store ten minutes away from home (thankfully, my little sister is usually up for going). I’ve always thought about it as a manifestation of my sometimes too-strong love for family and friends, but it’s definitely possible that it’s just what my sense of self wants: to be recognized, to be visible, to be known and seen and loved. Though this kind of “end of solitude” sounds too much like insecurity for me to comfortable with it, it looks like I’m going to have to do some soul-searching and figure out if my sense of self matches the contemporary self. Too much of solitude isn’t a good thing, but neither is being so uncomfortable with the idea of solitude that one can’t even do the simplest things without someone else around. We need to find a balance between solitude and recognition.