“The great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance
Who are you during solitude? Who are you “in the midst of the crowd”? Are there different versions of you? Is there one central you who manifests themselves differently depending on the situation? Or are you, just you.
These are some of the questions I find to be interesting to ask but that ultimately lead only so far in terms of answers. The largest difficulty in asking someone these types of questions is that there seems to be no way in which to objectively answer them in which another can perceive what that answer means. For example, if I ask you who you are during solitude compared to who you are while in a social situation, you may say you’re a different person. That’s all fine and well but are there different variations depending on who is around, where you are? I can’t even begin to understand how many different you’s there may be, we can only know ourselves.
I believe that the real you is what you are when you’re in solitude. You know (or at least hope) no-one is watching or judging you. You can do anything you’d like, however you like and no-one is going to stop you in that moment. Because of this, we don’t hold back our thoughts and we don’t have to deal with “normal” social cues that are expected of us. Being alone with your thoughts in in the quiet is where I believe the real you lies.
You are likely different though, we all have our own perception, wants and tastes. You may feel you’re only really you when you’re surrounded by loved ones and such. I wouldn’t agree that you are you in that situation, just because you are most comfortable in that scenario doesn’t mean your inner being is on show. I believe if a person can’t enjoy some solitude then there must be something wrong, be it with them or in their lives. But what do I know? I can only tell it like I perceive it from my own conscious.
The conscious is the root problem in this field of thought, Despite it being a great and almost magical ability we have developed, we lack the power to understand it as of yet. I don’t think we’ll discover what the real inner being is, or if it even exists as I imagine it, until we’ve conquered the workings behind human consciousness.
Until then I’ll be following in Emerson’s footsteps and will try to bring the being I am in solitude out into the real world, one step at a time.