From my perspective, being alone and being lonely are two different things. To me, being alone means actually being by yourself with no one else around, while being lonely means you long to be with other people, whether you are actually alone or not. Being that I am a stay-at-home mom for now, I am often alone. I’m OK with that and sometimes prefer that because I don’t have to deal with all the negative behaviors that cause stress, tension, and frustration when everyone else is home. I can be in control of what I am thinking about and getting done and can think happy thoughts. I do spend a lot of time lost in thought, so I guess all the people I am with in my head are keeping me company. Throw in some social media, texting, and an occasional phone call, and I don’t usually feel lonely when I am actually alone.
Oddly enough though, I do sometimes feel lonely when the rest of my family is here in the house with me. That’s because my kids are old enough that they don’t want to do much together anymore, thanks in part to the fact that they have electronics as an alternative, but also because they don’t have much interest in even carrying on a conversation most of the time. They’d rather be on their own, and they don’t really value spending time with people, especially their mom, at this point in their lives and in this day and age. To be around other people, especially my immediate family, and know that everyone is choosing to be by themselves vs. spending any time with me a good part of the time can be a lonely feeling.
I am basically a single mom during the week and don’t have that many people I can socialize with, so I don’t get out that much. That makes me appreciate the times I am able to laugh and carry on interesting conversations with my friends and other family members even more. As long as I have some social plans every so often so that I have something to look forward to or enough positive things to think about and keep my brain busy, I’m usually OK. It’s when there’s not much going on that I get a little lonely. I am kind of a homebody and don’t need to be busy all the time, but I just need to know that there are people who want to spend time with me or at least want to know how my day was or how I am feeling. That’s what keeps me from feeling lonely, especially when I am not actually alone.
I think it’s good to be comfortable being alone and not needing to be with other people in order to be content or happy. Solitude definitely gives you a lot of time to think about what’s important in life, what kind of people you like to associate with, what it means to be a good person, and other things of that nature. And it helps you learn to appreciate your own companionship. I think that only helps you be a better partner when you are in a relationship because you might appreciate the time with that person even more, you will be with them by choice and not necessity, you will not define yourself by that person, you may learn to value yourself without needing to be validated by someone else, and you might have a better sense of what you want out of the relationship after having had some time to think about it. Loneliness doesn’t necessarily need to go hand in hand with being alone or even feeling like you are alone when you are with other people, if you can learn to appreciate the richness of solitude.
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