When I was 25, I spent a large portion of my time alone, and I experienced loneliness. My new husband spent the majority of his work time out of town. I had several friends but they were in relationships and often wanted to do couples things. I was always the odd duck out: I never had a husband in tow but I also wasn’t single.
Due to my unique situation, I was often left out of get-togethers. When my friends went to the town dance, I was the one who was called on to babysit because of course, I didn’t have a date. Loneliness is a powerful force when being confronted with aloneness on a daily basis.
I had a couple of girlfriends who were single and they were easier to get together with than the ones who had a man at home who demanded attention. We would hang out and drink and bake and sing along to whatever music we were into. But these times were rare and I often spent my evenings alone cooking for one and reading.
Another problem I had was that my best friend had been a guy. When he found the girl of his dreams, I had to skedaddle because of jealousy issues.
My friend explained, “I’m sorry, Melissa, we can’t stay friends. She is upset that you and I dated when we were young teenagers. Maybe with time things will change…” The disheartening feelings of loneliness were made even more so by the loss of my constant companion.
My job was in the city so every day I would ride the train for an hour each way to my job and in the winter, it was in the dark both ways. My life felt dark and bleak that year and my empty house was cold and drafty. I was at a loss as what to do to about the crushing weight of loneliness I was experiencing.
One Summer evening, I was at a party standing around talking to a group of friends when one of them casually mentioned that he went to see a movie alone the day before. It may seem ridiculous, but the thought of going on solo adventures to places like the movies had never occurred to me before that time.
I was intrigued and asked a barrage of questions, “Have you ever gone out to eat by yourself? Have you ever gone to a bar by yourself? Did you feel awkward? How often do you do things like this by yourself?” As I asked about my friend’s solitary excursions, I felt like a whole new world was opening up before me.
My friend assured me that yes, it was fun to eat at a restaurant alone and that no, it wasn’t awkward to go see a movie unaccompanied. I couldn’t believe that I had allowed myself to miss out on a huge chunk of life because I thought I needed to experience it with another person in tow. What I needed to do now, I decided, was to make up for lost time.
From that moment on, I decided to welcome my independent circumstances. What I once looked upon as forced isolation, I now saw as opportunity for exciting escapades. I felt like I had been released to experience life more fully.
What I didn’t know would happen is that when I began to espouse aloneness, the once dark cloud of loneliness would gradually begin to give way to the luminosity of contentment. I started to feel at peace about my circumstances. Boredom and depression steadily transformed into excitement and joy.
The first outing alone I decided to undertake was to go for a walk through the town. It was amazing because I could take as long as I wanted to stroll through the antique store. I could stop and eat at the Thai restaurant I like but nobody else does. And I could also meander aimlessly down the street and stare at things without someone asking me, “What are you looking at?”
I found out that it’s fun to go ice-skating and roller-skating alone. I took myself out on dates for ice cream. I went to the book store and browsed for hours without anyone looking at their watch. I realized that my own company was worthwhile and fun.
Not only was my own company worthwhile and fun, I also didn’t have to answer to anyone. I could wear anything I wanted, even pajamas. I could go makeup-free. The loneliness I had become accustomed to feeling was slowly vanishing.
I began to discover that not only was it bearable to be alone, it was also beneficial in a number of ways. My alone time gave me advantages I had been unaware were possible because I had been too busy being miserable. If you feel lonely, try embracing solitude and enjoy the many life-enriching benefits it has to offer.
Solitude is crucial to restoring energy
When you are around other people you have to worry about their feelings, their needs, or if they will take things the wrong way and become offended. During times of solitude, you can just “be” and get to know yourself better without worrying about the expectations of other people. When you focus on yourself and your own needs, it gives you a breather and you can replenish your reserves.
When you are alone, you won’t require the opinion of other people and will value your own insight. You will be depending on yourself so you will trust your own instincts. Your own voice will shine through all of the noise that usually surrounds you and your true nature will assert itself.
You can regulate your emotions
By spending your time in the moment and not distracted by other people or devices, you will reduce anxiety. Try driving in total silence. Give up your phone as often as possible. Meditate quietly or do some exercises. Not only will you experience less stress, you may also lower your blood pressure.
Being alone reveals your authentic self
The more you experience the consequences of your decisions alone, the more your true voice in the world will emerge. As you become true to yourself you will attract like-minded people who appreciate your unique personality. You may find yourself a new tribe of friends.
Remember that you need solitude to refresh your mind and soul. Your capacity for compassion will increase and you will form more authentic connections. Embrace the virtue of independence. Banish loneliness and embrace solitude today!
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