The Best of Everything

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Originally appeared in Screen Stars magazine, October 1950

Like most people, I have known what loneliness means its emptiness, its dreariness, its hopelessness. And yet, because I have experienced it I have made every effort to fight it to refuse to let it become an integral part of my existence. 

I am naturally a person who likes to be with people, who loves the thrill of having a home, who likes to feel that I can share my life with those close to me. That is one reason I enjoy giving parties on occasion. One night not so long ago, for instance, I decided on the spur of the moment to show a picture at my home, so I called up some friends and asked them to come over. I can't remember how many actually came, but I know I had quite a crowd. It was one of those spontaneous evenings that bring real pleasure. 

However, I have found that I don't need to go social to combat any loneliness. It's true I like to go out for an evening at times, I enjoy going to night clubs occasionally when I'm not working, but I have learned that this is only a physical escape from loneliness not a mental one. 

Loneliness, as far as I'm concerned, cannot entirely be defeated by a lot of activity and hustle and bustle. I have never been as lonely as I have at certain times when I've been in crowds. I think a sense of belonging, of completeness, comes only with peace of mind. Maybe external things aren't going so well but if the mind is at rest you can't really be alone. 

I have found that peace primarily with my children. When there are youngsters in the house you have little time to be lonely. They demand much attention and care. The love I feel for my children has more than filled my life. To watch them grow and develop, to listen to the little stories they tell me, to try to answer their ever-present questions keep my mind very occupied. To be a good mother is a woman's greatest responsibility. My children have given me far more than I can ever give them. They have given me contentment and a feeling of being needed. Yet when they have gone to bed at night there does come a sense of incompleteness. The house seems empty and this is a lonely time for a woman who has no man around to share things with. There are many women who have found this a most difficult thing to face. It is not easy not to let that loneliness become predominant. I don't always succeed but I try then to think of all the things that have enriched my life, to refuse to resort to self pity. 

Yes, loneliness does breed on self pity and idleness. 

If you have too much time on your hands, you're bound to think of yourself too much and that is bad. The more you analyze yourself the more you can find to make you miserable. I have always been ambitious which has been a good thing for me. I have a pride in doing a good job in my career and I have loved challenges. Feeling as I do about my work has kept me mentally alert, so I have had little time to think of myself or to have idleness overpower me. Right now I'm working extremely hard on my new picture, "Harriet Craig." It's one I'm very excited about and it will definitely keep me on my toes.  

Perhaps in some ways I work too hard. I know I'm inclined to drive myself, but I don't regret this characteristic. I guess if you have any kind of ambition you can't help being intense about what you do. 

Yet, even being busy cannot be the final answer to overcoming loneliness. There has to be someone with whom to share the products of all that industry if you're really to lead a full life. I can share with my children. Others share with their parents, their wives or husbands, or even with close friends. I think that working just to work is no answer. There must be someone to work for. 

Perhaps the answer isn't as simple for a younger person. Maybe a girl in her teens finds it hard to get dates to use a particular problem. Maybe she is, therefore, lonely. Perhaps she feels unwanted. But there is a good chance that such a girl may not be trying hard enough to let others know her well. She may be hiding behind her own self-imposed wall. I knew such a girl once. She seldom went out because she was convinced no one would like her. She imagined herself to be unattractive. Yet, no one had a chance to know her because she kept within herself. She had a basically fine personality, but she pushed it into the background. No wonder she was a lonely person. People aren't going to come to you if you block them off. A little of yourself, a little of the best you have must be shown if loneliness is to be overcome. I think any young person who feels set apart from others has to force herself to mix with people of her own age, to develop a personality that will be attractive to others. If she accepts loneliness she can become a nonentity and very often neurotic. If she refuses to admit its existence she will become vital and interesting to others and she will find she has many wonderful friends. 

I don't believe in giving in to loneliness. It can engulf you too much and create a life so empty that there is no way to fill it again. I know because at one time in my life I did give in to it. And the fight to hit back at it was long and hard. It took great effort too for me to gain back the self-confidence I had lost and even more to overcome the inferiority complex I had let grow within me. I have found that it doesn't pay to be too introspective too self critical about yourself. And that's exactly what loneliness does if you let it. Naturally, you must be aware of your shortcomings, but you shouldn't make them your entire production, the key to your whole life.

I want to go on feeling that I can keep my life full. I want to give my children a wonderful home and to prepare them for life. I want to feel that my career will be so full of challenges that it will keep me mentally alert. I want to have good friends and I want to be a good friend. I want to look at each new day and ask myself, "What can I do to make this day complete and purposeful?" I hope I can show kindness and respect to others. I know I shall not think the universe begins and ends with me and that all my little problems are big ones. I hope that I shall not forget that loneliness is a state of mind! 

Maybe I'm an optimist, but I think loneliness can be overcome if you want to think of living instead of existing.


The Best of Everything