Being by yourself is not the same as feeling lonely. Here is the difference between alone and lonely.
People make assumptions
Often after hearing what exciting activities you’ve been up to at the weekend, people’s first question is, “Who’d you go with?” And if you respond that you did something on your own, their confused face quickly turns into sympathy. See, people think that going somewhere, doing something, on your own, means that nobody wanted to go with you. That you’re lonely.
The reality is that, while someone may have bailed on you, doesn’t mean you didn’t have a great time. There’s a big difference between being alone and being lonely.
What is loneliness?
Being lonely is a feeling of missing people, longing for company. It’s the pang of sadness in your chest that won’t go away and distracts you from whatever you’re trying to enjoy. Everybody has been lonely at one point or another, whether after a breakup, moment of nostalgia, or when something brings a long-forgotten memory to the forefront of our mind.
What is being alone?
Simply being alone is a state of being. Being on your own. And yes, it can cause moments of loneliness. But some people mistakenly associate these contrasting concepts as one. They are so afraid of being by themselves that they literally can’t stand to be alone for even a second. Going to the bathroom. Fetching something from their car. They can’t bear to be left alone with their own thoughts (which is worrying), and so surround themselves with family, friends, and colleagues. Anyone.
In reality, being alone can be a wonderful thing. As somebody who’s taken a leap of faith and crossed continents on their own, let me tell you it’s empowering. Even enjoying a simple moment quietly. Reflecting. Riding solo builds your character – strength, bravery, and independence. So if you haven’t tried doing something alone, go for a walk, catch a flick, or eat out sometime. Perhaps you’ll discover that you’re good company all by yourself.
There’s a clear emotional difference between alone and lonely. Discovering the happiness of enjoying your own company can be liberating. Rather than staying home because nobody else wants to watch the new movie, go watch it yourself. Treat yourself to some popcorn. A coffee alone might turn into a holiday alone. Then going round the world on your own.