Is our overwhelming need to belong driving us to commit unspeakable atrocities? If we strip the motives of perpetrators of recent news events to their core, we would find actions driven by a desire to belong, and a reaction to an ostracizing from belonging. We have an instinctual desire to be a part of a group. Sometimes we’re misguided in our selection, other times bullying disconnects us from the group and from society. While a perception, it can certainly feel very real, and in the end that is all that matters, how we feel, for it drives our actions.

As an introvert I’ve struggled much of this life finding the group in which to belong, which is different than fitting in, the latter you can wear a mask, the former is connecting as the stripped you. Experience has shown me the pain that being alone can hold. At the same time, being alone, learning to embrace solitude, accepting not always belonging, have allowed me to develop a fairly thick skin. While some may argue too thick, that thick skin has seen me through tough times. Solitude has built a resilience to the opinions of others, neutralizing their importance to the health of my identity.

Solitude encourages thinking, contributing to the development of free will and an independence found in self. Our problem may be that we’ve given away our free will and independence, or haven’t taken ownership. We place it in the hands of religion, corporations, philosophies, social cliques & apps, and the media. We’re conditioned to incessantly look to them for approval, and for acceptance of our actions. When they betray us we become lost and confused. If we use solitude as a constructive tool to build character and a resilience to conformity and public opinion, we’d be stronger for it. Situations that arise during the course of a persons life that plunge them into a deep awareness of being alone would be tolerable and more easily identifiable as an opportunity to learn and grow. Rather than take rash actions against the very people whom we’ve given power, we can find comfort in power within ourselves.