The Difference Between Being Alone and Being Lonely
I am an introvert by nature. There is nothing I love more than a glass of wine with a film and a face mask on a Friday night. A cup of coffee on a Sunday morning with Lorelai Gilmore’s witty comments murmured in the background.
I like being alone. I like having time to myself.
But when I moved to Glasgow and the autumn floated in with its deep grey, cold rain, and unseen sun, I realized I don’t like being lonely.
I tend to throw myself full force into everything I do. I am a dive into new adventures and figure-it-out-as-I-go type of girl. I did that with my Glasgow adventure. What I did not think about was: This was my the first time I was properly living on my own.
I was truly alone for the first time.
It took me hyperventilating, tears streaming down my face on a cold February afternoon to realize, “Holy Fuck, I am lonely.”
So how did I realize this? Well first off, being alone and being lonely are two separate and distinct feelings.
Alone is defined as, “having no one else present; on one's own”
Lonely is defined as, “sad because one has no friends or company.”
You can enjoy having alone time, but still feel lonely.
What I learned with a combination of seasonal depression and this new found revelation is that there is no universal cure. I wish I could tell you: Do A, B, and C and all will be fine. But, I can’t. I can say it gets better. I can say you have to put yourself out there.
So this is what I did.
- I cried.
- I downloaded Bumble BFF.
- I went on friend dates.
- I went on actual dates.
- I saw films.
- I shopped.
- I tried new hobbies.
- I explored my city.
- I took day trips.
- I put myself out there.
- I created a routine.
I found reasons to get up and go.
And suddenly. Winter melted away to spring, and all the tulips were blooming, and the sun was shining. And I was running down the cobbled streets of Glasgow to meet my new friends for a pint in the glorious sun.
So here it is: there is no magical cure, you just have to.
You have to believe in yourself. Be confident, and put yourself out there. You have to give yourself things to do, a reason to get up and go out. You have to open your mouth and talk. Talk to the person in line, your barista, anyone. Talk to a therapist if you need it. I did, and she gave knowledge on how to handle anxiety issues and how to understand different types of worrying. Put a smile on, even if you do want to, and persevere.
Be proactive and do what is best for you. And know, that from the other side it will be okay. It may not be great, but it will be okay.
Because here I sit, one year later, and I am grateful for that time. I am grateful that I learned those skills. I am grateful for that awful February afternoon. I am grateful because now I know I can survive and I have the skills and the knowledge to do so.