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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

Solo Dolo

“How you gon’ be a social worker when you don’t like people?” my late stepmom once asked me when informed that I was accepted into a graduate program for social work. At the time, I didn’t have an adequate response to her question.

It wasn’t that I didn’t like all people, because I hadn’t met every living person on earth and I couldn’t rationally maintain such a position. Throughout my life, I’ve favored solitude more than most people I’ve ever met and this fact once earned me the label “odd duck”—an outcast.

Additionally, I tend to become physically drained when interacting with groups of people for an extended amount of time, I have a lifelong history of getting lost in my thoughts and preferring time alone to being around others, and I’ve continually faced judgement from others for how I behave in this regard.

I’ve been told that loneliness is “bad” and “unhealthy,” though the way in which I conceptualize isolation isn’t akin to how I understand the meaning of others when referring to the state of being alone. In fact, if I maintain that I’m better off alone—and I’m not prescribing this choice for others—I don’t think my elected lifestyle is the wrong decision for me.

It now occurs to me that the answer I would like to have given my stepmom is one with which others also mentally contend. Therefore, it is my hope to make a well-reasoned case for those who opt for seclusion and to provide knowledge to others who misunderstand such an arrangement.

Solo Dolo

On his 2009 studio album Man on the Moon: The End of Day, rapper Kid Cudi featured a song entitled “Solo Dolo (Nightmare).” Describing the phrase “solo dolo,” one source clarifies, “1) to do things by yourself (solo) and on the down low (dolo) 2) A loner.”

On the track, Kid Cudi states:

Listen good; I don’t need nobody. This is what you feel are the sounds of insanity. Hoping what I hear loops itself to finish me. No, I won’t be afraid, hey, hey. Oh, whoa, whoa. Why must it feel so wrong when I try and do right? Do right. Oh, whoa, whoa. Soaring through paradise when I’m closing my eyes. I’m Mr. Solo Dolo.

Addressing the interpreted meaning of the song, one source states:

The lyrics of “Solo Dolo (Nightmare)” are centered around Kid Cudi’s deeply personal struggles with mental health and the feelings of loneliness and isolation that come with it. The song explores the themes of depression, anxiety, and self-doubt, and how they can all come together to create a “nightmare” in one’s head.

While I appreciate this interpretative attempt, I reject the framing. Specifically, depression and anxiety are used in a pathological fashion, as though it’s a “nightmare”—or implied immoral state of affairs—to experience loneliness and isolation in conjunction with mental illness.

Loneliness, isolation, introversion, asociality, anti-sociality, and the general conception of mental health in regards to these traits is something I’ve observed as being frequently pathologized. Herein, I’ll take a closer look at the difference between typical and atypical solo dolo behavior.

Furthermore, I’ll address moralizing sentiment in relation to people who judge others for a chosen life of solitude—claiming that people should, must, or ought not to do so. It is up to the reader to decide as to whether or not my argument is sound, wise, or healthy.

Is loneliness unhealthy?

In “Solo Dolo,” Kid Cudi specified that a person who claims, “I don’t need nobody,” is comparable to “insanity”—the state of being seriously mentally ill. Commonly, this psychological state of being is considered unhealthy—harmful to one’s health.

Still, I wonder if it’s necessarily unhealthy to merely choose isolation over socialization. I suppose it all depends on who one asks. Herein, I’m not debating the merits of involuntary solitude, as I generally oppose such action.

Loneliness is defined as a state of solitude or being alone. I maintain that in and of itself, there is nothing inherently unhealthy about being alone. Many people actually schedule “alone time” as part of a self-care regimen. Still, according to one source:

“Loneliness is not necessarily about being alone. Instead, “it is the perception of being alone and isolated that matters most” and is “a state of mind”. “Inability to find meaning in one’s life”, “Feeling of negative and unpleasant” and “A subjective, negative feeling related to the deficient social relations” “A feeling of disconnectedness or isolation.” etc., are the other ways to define loneliness.

The difference between the former and latter definitions is that the perception or assumption about one’s solitude is what creates unpleasant consequences. This is belief-driven interpretation concerning one’s condition of being solo dolo relates to the ABC Model of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT).

Rather than endorsing an Action-Consequence (A-C) connection, REBT focuses on the Belief-Consequence (B-C) connection. An A-C perspective leads one to conclude that being alone results in unhealthy sorrow. I reject this conclusion.

Alternatively, a B-C viewpoint acknowledges that it’s what a person believes about being alone which results in the consequence of emotions, bodily sensations, and behaviors. Therefore, it is one’s perception or assumption about being solo dolo which causes the reaction.

As such, loneliness isn’t inherently unhealthy. Rather, it’s what one believes about being alone that may be harmful to one’s health. Additionally, I concur with the latter source in regards to the value of finding meaning in one’s life.

One could be in a large group of people and without purpose and meaning, one’s mental and emotional health may be impoverished. Even still, it is what one believes about one’s circumstance that causes one to experience discomfort.

Isolation vs. introversion

What comes to mind when hearing the terms “isolation” versus “introversion”? Is a person who chooses to remain solo dolo subject to one of these circumstances over another?

Isolation relates to separation from others while introversion concerns the tendency to be concerned with one’s own thoughts and emotions rather than with external things. Though they are different concepts, people frequently use these words synonymously.

According to one source, “Introverts love to self-discover and journey within. Isolation is about escape and avoidance.” It is important to understand that isolates and introverts aren’t objectively good, bad, right, wrong, healthy, unhealthy, or otherwise.

In “Solo Dolo (Nightmare),” Kid Cudi says, “Why must it feel so wrong when I try and do right?” One imagines he struggles not with being an isolate, though with societal perception of being close to or around others as being the “right” thing to do.

From a psychological standpoint, per one source, an isolate is:

[A]n individual who remains apart from others, either as a result of choosing to minimize his or her contact with others or through rejection and ostracism by other individuals or groups. For example, a person who is part of a work group but has no, very few, or very superficial social and personal relations with other group members would be an isolate.

Likewise, one psychological source clarifies about introversion:

[O]rientation toward the internal private world of one’s self and one’s inner thoughts and feelings, rather than toward the outer world of people and things. Introversion is a broad personality trait and, like extraversion, exists on a continuum of attitudes and behaviors. Introverts are relatively more withdrawn, retiring, reserved, quiet, and deliberate; they may tend to mute or guard expression of positive affect, adopt more skeptical views or positions, and prefer to work independently.

Having read common and psychological definitions of these terms, now what comes to mind when thinking of isolation and introversion? In “Solo Dolo (Nightmare),” Kid Cudi admits, “Soaring through paradise when I’m closing my eyes,” which seems consistent with introversion.

Is the experience of paradise-invoking behavior—and which does not directly harm to others—something with which you disagree, dear reader? If so, what is the alternative—to force people into a state of socialization so that you are more comfortable with compulsory action?

Asocial vs. antisocial

Quite often, I hear people obscure the meaning of “asocial” and “antisocial.” Someone may say, “I’m so antisocial, because I like sitting in my room and reading instead of going out.” However, this is an improper use of the word and these terms aren’t synonymous.

Colloquially speaking, asocial is defined as disinterest in forming social connections with others while antisocial refers to one who is contrary to the laws and customs of society; devoid of or antagonistic to sociable instincts or practices.

According to a psychological source, “asocial” relates to the one who declines to engage, or is incapable of engaging, in social interaction—or who lacks sensitivity or regard for social values or norms. Asociality can stem from personal choice, mental illness, or other means.

Psychologically speaking, one source describes “antisocial” as denoting or exhibiting behavior that sharply deviates from social norms and also violates other people’s rights—providing arson and vandalism as examples of antisocial behavior.

Understanding the latter two definitions, the ‘a’ in asocial merely denotes “lack of” or “not” while the prefix “anti” in antisocial suggests being “against” or “opposed” to something. Simply because one is not social within a community doesn’t mean one wants to burn down the neighborhood.

Clarifying between asocial and antisocial, the following table may be useful:

For further clarity, consider the following asocial and antisocial traits:

There is a stark difference between a person exhibiting asocial behavior and one who presents with antisocial personality disorder (ASPD). For clarity, consider the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5-TR):

Have you repeatedly broken laws? Think of failing to fully stop at posted stop signs, speeding, jaywalking, and so forth and so on. How about a pattern of failing to plan ahead, impulsively purchasing junk food, and so forth?

Are you frequently irritable with others, behave in a reckless manner when drinking in excess or navigating the roadways, or are you consistently irresponsible with money or showing up to work on time? If you answered in the affirmative for three or more of these traits, there’s no need to be alarmed.

I know quite a few people in my personal life who would qualify for ASPD if a diagnosis was overly simplistic to attain. Unless you are in extreme isolation to avoid causing injury to others or you have frequent interaction with law enforcement, it’s likely that you don’t qualify for an ASPD diagnosis.

Noteworthy, in “Solo Dolo (Nightmare),” Kid Cudi doesn’t allude to wanting to destroy others or the world. Alternately, the character he describes aligns more with an asocial and introverted person.


When once posed with a question from my late stepmom about my choice to be solo dolo, I didn’t have an adequate reason for my decision. As such, the current blogpost is an attempt to provide a well-reasoned case for those who opt for seclusion and to provide knowledge to others who misunderstand this lifestyle.

Herein, I’ve addressed pathologizing and moralizing from individuals in relation to people who judge others for a chosen life of solitude. I reject that others should, must, or ought not to conclude that a solo dolo approach to life is appropriate for them.

Not all who opt for an isolated life are subject to a “nightmare,” as indicated in Kid Cudi’s song—or rather, the cited interpretation of his lyrics. Perhaps the rapper’s perspective of an unpleasant vision refers more to those who demand people shouldn’t accept a solo dolo lifestyle.

Choosing to be alone largely concerns introversion, which isn’t inherently bad. The key focus herein relates to choice and not involuntary solitude. Likewise, requiring people to accept a social or extroverted lifestyle may do more harm than good when depriving an individual of self-determined and autonomous choice.

Additionally, an asocial person isn’t necessarily the individual who will rob you on a subway or who routinely physically assaults others. Therefore, “solo dolo” isn’t analogous to ASPD. Ultimately, had I the vocabulary to express it at the time, I would've told my stepmom I intended on being an asocial worker.

If you choose to be lonely and you aren’t self-disturbed by this decision, it would seem as though you’ve made a rational decision concerning your life. However, if you are involuntarily isolated and are currently struggling with your beliefs about your circumstance, I may be able to help with your outlook.

If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.

As the world’s foremost old school hip hop REBT psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.

At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!

Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW


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