Two terms that are commonly morphed together to have the same meaning are being alone and being lonely. When in reality, these two terms have completely different meanings. For the past few months, I have been thinking about this and how many people can't distinguish the difference between the two.
First, let's explore being alone. In our lives we see people alone constantly in public at a restaurant, movie, social event, and many other public places. Whenever some people see a person alone in public, the thought automatically goes through there mind that just because that person is by themselves, they must be lonely. Probably half of those people that automatically make that judgment start to feel sorry for that person. This drives me up the wall whenever people automatically make that judgment. I feel like in our culture today, media is trying to portray that people that are alone are automatically lonely and that it's not okay to be by yourself. You constantly see this scenario in movies, TV shows, songs, and many other forms. Through this message, many people get the impression that it's not okay to be alone, whether that means having few friends or no boyfriend/girlfriend.
The reality about most people that are alone in public is that they aren't lonely, they just enjoy their own company. It is completely okay to be by yourself and be content about it. People shouldn't always have to be making conversation with someone to have to a good time. A great feeling to have is that you can enjoy your own company in any public situation. I guess you could call enjoying being alone solitude. That person that sits by themselves weekly in your favorite restaurant, maybe they enjoy having a good meal while observing their day and thoughts. That person that always goes to social events and banquets without a date, maybe they are content with not being in a relationship. That person at the theater that's alone watching a movie, maybe they want no distractions so they can fully absorb the film there watching. Maybe if more people tried being alone in public places I just mentioned, they would realize how great it can be.
Now, don't get me wrong. I love as much as anyone else to hang out with my friends in many of the public places I just mentioned. I really enjoy solitude, but I think you should at least have one person that you are very close to at one point in your life. That person you are close to doesn't only have to be for social reasons. That person is important for when you desperately need someone to listen or get advice from them in a tough situation. This also can bring up the point that you can have a small amount of close friends without being considered lonely. Having someone I can bond over a social activity with is great and enjoyable. Having friends to be around is great. It's very nice to have company, but that doesn't mean I always have to be with a friend to have a great time.
Now, let's talk about the feeling of loneliness. Like I've already stated, being alone is completely different then being lonely. The feeling of loneliness can be caused by loosing a loved one, moving to a different location, or feeling like you have no companions or anyone to talk to. The feeling of loneliness is terrible and I think most people will feel this way at one point in their life. Some experience loneliness larger and longer then most. I feel like some people are scared of being by themselves for the reason of loosing that person that would make them lonely. The feeling of loneliness isn't a feeling that usually just quickly disappears. It usually takes time to not feel lonely anymore. Loneliness can usually disappear when someone starts to develop closer bonds to the people that have always been there, but they had never reached out to. Loneliness can also fade away by realizing that more people actually care for that person then they had thought.
My advice to people who are alone, but not lonely is to truly distinguish the difference between the two in your own life. People also shouldn't be scared that being alone leads to loneliness. I also encourage people who are afraid to be alone with themselves for any reason to try becoming more comfortable with being alone. An important factor to remember after reading this it that some people enjoy being alone more then others. Just because a person doesn't spend as much time alone as another doesn't mean they don't like being alone. Everyone is different and some enjoy or can handle being alone more then others which isn't a bad thing.
I really hope this post has helped people to truly recognize the difference between the two. I encourage more people to at least try being alone in public places because it can be quite refreshing. I leave you with a line from one of my favorite poems called "The Invitation" by Oriah Mountain Dreamer "I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments."
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