There is a bold line between loneliness and being alone. Loneliness, in my opinion, is a feeling of sadness, of isolation beyond your control, and ultimately has a negative effect on your life.
Being alone, however, is healthy. It is good for your mental state; to recalibrate your emotions, to collect your thoughts, to learn about yourself and who you are, to assess your goals in an unbiased manner.
But how can you be alone without being lonely? I believe it starts in childhood. You have to learn to play by yourself and to preoccupy yourself without constant stimulation and attention of another person. Due to different life courses, however, sometimes we have to learn the skill of being alone at a later age. These are the ways I spend time alone without that nagging, gloomy feeling of loneliness.
Journaling & Reading. It works. There is no shame in keeping a journal or a diary, and it doesn’t have to be a typical “Dear Diary…” type of journal (but if that works for you, go for it!). I just like to have a notebook to dump all of the thoughts that have accumulated in my brain. Journaling lets you be alone without feeling lonely because you are accompanied by your thoughts. Reading is also a way to be with yourself and learn about yourself by immersing your thoughts in another era, lifestyle, culture, or even a whole other world. You’d be surprised how much you can get to know yourself through reading a story– you’d also be surprised how long you’ll be able to go without feeling alone.
Unplug. When you are constantly attached to your devices, you are never truly alone. Turn off, disconnect, silence. Try not to worry about what other people are doing. FOMO (fear of missing out) is a real thing, I know all too well how it feels and it can certainly lead to loneliness. I find the best way to avoid this nagging feeling that you’re missing out is to just forget that your devices exist. Silence them and put them in a drawer or another room and do something you enjoy.
Get Creative. Photography, painting, sketching, writing, DIY, dance, playing music– all things you can do alone yet have an end goal, something you’ll be proud of. Even if you don’t end up with a final product, you’ll still feel satisfied and like you’ve spent your valuable time well. No matter what result, you will have gotten lost in your thoughts, been productive, and had a little fun all on your own.
You’ll be amazed at how fulfilling it can be to be by yourself. You’ll feel a new sense of pride, self-sufficiency, and accomplishment. You will learn more about who you are and what you’re capable of. I admire people who travel solo– they have mastered the art of being alone. There are a bunch of great books out there on this topic that will give far better information, but this is what works for me. I encourage you to read up on the topic. I value my time alone, but I don’t think it’s healthy to be alone all of the time– there is definitely a balance. I’d love to hear your thoughts.