The Disappearing Act

The Disappearing Act: What Living Alone Can Teach You
Meo Antolin
disappearing act
“From the very beginning, humans built this civilization by being social. Without the formation of communities that ultimately led to the formation of nations, the entire species would’ve never advanced at all. We’d be stuck in the dark ages; filled with anarchy and, well, darkness.
Humans are biologically designed to be social creatures. Just like any other socially-oriented species, we were built to function better with the help of others. Wolves hunt more efficiently in packs, lions protect their territories with their pride, and so on. But is being social still necessary in today’s modern world?
During the past decade, more in more households in the world become inhabited by a single person. In Canada, 28% of households are owned by single people. In Japan, it’s 32%. Additionally, 32 million Americans live alone.
May it be for 1, 2, or even 10 years — living alone is not as bad as you think. And contrary to popular belief, losing your mind with prolonged solitude is extremely unlikely. In fact, you can actually become a stronger person inside and out by dedicating your time solely for yourself.
While most people don’t really choose to be alone, you can just be alone by choice. You may even be surprised in the process. This is “The Disappearing Act”. What is “The Disappearing Act”?
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Nicola Samorì “The Disappearing Act. The Violin” [1913] LARMgalleri, Copenhagen:

Basically, all you need to do is make yourself extremely scarce. Stop hanging out with people. Delete your social media accounts. In case you really need to go out, make sure you won’t bump into anyone you know. Sounds crazy? This is happening to a lot of people as of this day.

A lot of people withdraw from their social circles for a variety of reasons. These reasons include coping with their inner depression, facing tremendous internal problems, pursuing truth, or seeking personal growth — and believe it or not, you will indeed grow.

First, you may think that these people need outside intervention. Perhaps the support of friends, family, or even an organization. This is actually not a bad idea. However, you are denying them the opportunity to learn incredible, life-changing lessons, that will be with them forever. Furthermore, living alone doesn’t necessarily mean you should feel alone.

Your happiness is not dependent on others. Living alone at first may seem like self-destructive. There are people, places, and a lot of activities you will surely miss. You’ve been living with the comfort of all these things that most of your happy memories are of them. In turn, you’ve forgotten the ability of creating happiness from within yourself. However, how exactly can you do this? There is one answer: Don’t go looking for the approval of others. While not being such a bad thing by itself, finding satisfaction from the approval of others can make you more dependent on others for happiness. Instead, try to get approval from yourself. Today’s culture is becoming more and more centered to self-image. A good example is the use of social media networking sites.
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Nicola Samorì “The Disappearing Act. The Limits of Control” [2012], oil on copper.

When used the wrong way, social networking can promote narcissism. And with narcissism, you actually care more about what others will think about you. You yearn for acceptance and positive recognition. In time, you become irrationally concerned on how others see you. While you may gain happiness from this, remember that this is only temporary. You will be amazed on how quickly people can forget about the good things about you. When you lose the things that others ‘approve’ of you, you will have no one but yourself. This is why you should not give anyone else the power over your happiness.

You don’t need a reason to do good things. Try to observe today’s society. There’s no denying that charity exists. There are acts of kindness and helpfulness everywhere. It’s easy to find. Why? Because people tend to make sure that their acts of kindness are easy to find.
Politicians, celebrities, famous people, and even Facebook users, do good things mostly because they are fuelled by the motivation of getting approval from others. It’s not saying that all acts of kindness are fake. It’s just that sometimes, secondary motivations (getting approval) can sometimes shroud the purpose — a problem fixed by The Disappearing Act.
Without actively looking for the approval of others, or giving them something to approve of for that matter, may immediately drain you of motivation. However, this shouldn’t prevent you from doing good things for others.

Take note that living alone doesn’t free you from your responsibilities as a person. Instead, step forward and assume the responsibility of helping others. Despite sharing a house with no one but yourself, remember that you’re still part of a family — the human family.
Go treat a homeless person with food. Help a stranger with heavy luggage. Give money to those in need. Allow someone to cut you in line. Help your parents make ends meet. Hold a door open for someone you don’t know. There are virtually endless opportunities to perform acts of kindness.
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There is no need to impress anyone, or remind anyone about the good things you have done or will do. Focus on sincerity, and you will begin to realize why you’re doing these things in the first place. Believe it or not, there is nothing more satisfying than doing acts of kindness out of pure sincerity.

It’s the ones who stay that count. In time, people will begin asking about you. Despite having hundreds, or even thousands of friends on Facebook and followers on Twitter, only a handful of people will look for you on the verge of your solitude. One of the greatest benefits of The Disappearing Act is figuring out who your real friends are.
They will come out of nowhere. Despite living off the radar for a considerable amount of time, true friends will look for you. This is perhaps one of the most bizarre moments of living alone. One of those that will make you think, maybe you’re not so alone after all.”
Meo Antolin
For Meo Antolin, a professional writer in the Philippines, see:


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