On being alone and lonely

Being alone can be challenging at times.  There are those who relish their time by themselves, and others who don’t desire anything else.  But I think the majority of us have limits on the amount of time that they are isolated from others.

For others, it’s completely miserable.

I think it takes an incredibly strong and independent person who is comfortable being just with themselves.  Society often looks at these types of people as strange and different.  They are considered recluses, hermits, and downright crazy.  But I think there are those who are able to entertain themselves and satisfy their own emotional needs.  And if that’s what makes them happy, then there’s nothing wrong with that.   Not everybody is the same, not everyone has the needs that most of us do.

But there are others who are not alone by choice.  In fact, in my opinion, that kind of isolation is rarely intentional.

There are a number of reasons that people end up so solitary.  They may live in remote areas where there just aren’t the opportunities for company.  Debilitating emotional issues such as Agoraphobia or excessive Obsessive Compulsive Disorder can prevent people from venturing out and making contact.  Extreme shyness can keep you in.  Other illnesses often make it impossible to venture out and are completely dependent on others to come to them for the company.  Even just old age can create seclusion.

There’s being alone, and then there’s being lonely.

You don’t have to be by yourself to be lonely.   How many times has it been said that “I feel alone in a room full of people”?  I know I’ve said that myself.  Being around others does not always provide the connection that meets the social and emotional needs.  In some cases, even with a connection you can feel desolate and alone.  That kind of loneliness comes from within.

Depression is like that.

The connection that keeps you from feeling lonely doesn’t have to be close either.  Personally, I have friends that live 16,000 miles away on the other side of the ocean that I connect with regularly.  The relationship is where the emotional fulfillment comes from, not the proximity.  Then again, sometimes you just need a hug.  That’s kind of hard to do from that far away.

I think there is a knack to being happy alone.  One thing is confidence in yourself and the belief that you are worthy of someone’s kinship.  Having the feeling that it’s going to be forever and that you’ll always be alone can be miserable.  Thinking that there is something wrong with you that separates you from others can be painful.  But if you believe in yourself, and know that you aren’t really alone even though you’re by yourself is fine.  Sometimes, being by yourself like that is desired; even needed.  Having interests of your own and not depending on others for entertainment is important to me too.  If you must have someone else around to provide interesting activities then when they aren’t around there’s nothing to fill that void.  The same can be true with emotional needs.  Sometimes emotions need to be shared, and can be overwhelming at times, but if they can be dealt with honestly and openly within yourself then it isn’t necessary to always have someone else to be comfortable.

Being able to be happy alone means you like yourself.

Of course, these are all my opinions based on my own perspectives.  Everyone deals with being alone and loneliness in their own way.   I’ve struggled with isolation and lonesomeness and have worked hard to get to the point where I don’t need others to be happy.  I’ve learned to appreciate ‘me’ time, and make sure I schedule enough of it to keep balanced.  I’m no longer afraid to be alone.  There’s not a driving need to seek out the company of others.  I’m okay with who and where I am.  And the comfort that comes from security can make a difference when with others.  I can enjoy time with them as well as by myself.  In fact, I think that the happier I am with myself, the happier I am with others.    Learning to like myself is an ongoing process, and the more successful I am the easier it is to welcome my solitude.

Being happy alone is an art.  And for many it’s an acquired skill that takes practice and deliberate effort.  It’s not always an inherent ability, but it is achievable.  No one has to feel alone.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’d like a little ‘me’ time.

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