lonely vs. alone

alone animal bird clouds
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Loneliness:

  1. affected with, characterized by, or causing a depressing feeling of being alone; lonesome. 
  2. destitute of sympathetic or friendly companionship, intercourse, support, etc.:
  1. lone; solitary; without company; companionless.

Alone:

  1. separate, apart, or isolated from others

I think that far too often people confuse loneliness with being alone. However, the two are drastically different. Here is where they vary from each other in a simple, but essential aspect: to be alone is good, but to be lonely is not. An overgeneralization? Maybe. A simple, useful contrast? Definitely.

I believe that to enjoy spending time with others and to love others, one must love themselves first. Not only is spending time alone important, but also enjoying that time with only yourself.

Loneliness is often a fantasy more than a reality. The idea of being completely isolated is, generally speaking, one that is not supported by actual evidence. You are not alone. Reaching out for help and support from friends or family is natural and healthy, and can help you to abolish the feeling of loneliness. It is important that complacence does not take the place of motivation to change the imperfect situation in which you find yourself; do not settle for loneliness when you have not done your part to reach out to others. Those around you do want to help you and show their love for you, they sometimes just do not know how. Loneliness is something that is often both self inflicted, and accentuated by others, not entirely up to those around you. Becoming content with being alone, as well as reaching out to others for friendship and love, are two simple ways which can help to either remove loneliness, or at least replace it with simply being alone.

Being alone allows us time to think and reflect, exploring and understanding ourselves better. Contentment with life will stem from legitimately knowing and appreciating oneself.

Nowadays I feel as though people consider time on social media ‘alone time’ which is sad to me. The fact that we feel the need to fill our time apart from others watching and checking up on their lives seems twisted. I understand that social media is fun and enjoyable, and can be used for good things, but it has created a sense of longing for constant interaction with others.

I remember times in life when I have been too afraid of my own thoughts to spend time alone and without another distraction. I would always blast music or watch a TV show, sit in rooms full of strangers, spend time on social media, or immerse myself in a book to get away from my own thoughts. Hiding from my own self was probably one of the most unhealthy things that I could have done for my mental health. Eventually, I turned around and discovered ways to cope with being alone and facing exactly what was going on in my head. I trained myself to sit and watch sunsets and just ponder life and myself as a person. I was not lonely; I knew I had support and love from people around me. However, I was truly alone, and genuinely okay with it. I allowed myself to rejoice in my successes and find disappointment in my failures. I reflected on what I could do to better my relationships with friends and family, I thought about what I could do to do better in school, I pondered what it was that I wanted to do with my life and what I needed to do to get there. I remember feeling very at peace with myself. I felt as though my purpose and direction were clear to me, and I knew I would enjoy my company along the way: myself. Although the idea of being your own best friend is cheesy, it brings a brand new spark to life, that is simply not attainable through any other friendship.

This summer, I lived in a house with a lot of busy people. I had my own room and although I spent time with friends and roommates, I often found myself alone. So, I decided to love that alone time. A conscious decision was made and things began to change. Walking around the lake, writing for my blog, painting pictures, finding new music, editing my movie, reading books, and running were just a few of the things that I began do on my own. I loved the time that I spent finding and enjoying hobbies; I increased my skill in certain areas, and just provided myself with an overall better quality of life.

I am thankful to have been able to learn to enjoy spending time alone before life became busier and more fast paced. The importance of taking time to just do me is a lesson that I will forever be grateful for. Among busy schedules, lots of schoolwork, and a lively social life, I always am able to remember and respect the importance of being alone. My health, both mental and physical is much better due to this time for self care, and I feel as though I am able to be a better friend and student because I also take time alone.