Learning How to Be Alone
By Elizabeth Barrera
I don’t know how the majority of you perceive the word “alone” when you use it or hear it being used. I, for one, think of alone in two ways. There’s alone, and then there’s alone.
The first alone that I’m talking about is the temporary one. It’s the one that only lasts a moment in time, but not for a prolonged period. It’s only there for a visit, but not there to stay. Being alone in this case is a choice. It indicates that we are not only accepting the solitude, but also inviting it in.
For most of us, going to the grocery store by ourselves, the gym, the mall, or a doctor’s appointment isn’t a big deal. We’ve done it for a while now and they’re necessary tasks. It’s become something we’ve grown used to and doesn’t seem to bother us because, well, it needs to get done regardless.
The alone that I’d like to focus on right now, however, is prolonged. It’s not here for a visit - it’s here to stay. We don’t invite this solitude into our lives, but it’s not going anywhere else either. The worst part of it all is that it’s not our choice, it’s just happening…and it’s never being invited in.
I’m talking about the Friday nights when we’re too tired to go out, but still seek someone to spend our night with. Or maybe Sundays when we envision waking up next to the person we love and going to church together in the evenings. And this person that we envision will be permanently present in the reality of our prolonged solitude. It’s the alone that we have not grown used to, and does seem to bother us.
Although this type of solitude often carries negative connotation with it, I’d like to argue that it’s all about perspective. The minute that we decide that being alone is okay, is the same minute that we will grow comfortable and less anxious about being alone. Sure, I’ve had those days myself, and though I’m really good at wallowing and overthinking, I’ve also grown better at finding comfort in my own company instead.
So my advice is to begin with losing the mindset of solitude being a bad thing. It’s not bad to want someone to deplete that solitude, but you also don’t want just anybody right? Because, that sounds even more lonely itself. So don’t find a fallback option for your rebound. Don’t download Tinder, Bumble, Soul Swipe, CMB, or any of those dating apps. Instead, enjoy your time alone - you know, that alone alone we identified earlier.
Being alone isn’t a bad thing, so remind yourself that it’s okay to be alone. Become comfortable with this solitude and open your eyes to the comfort of your own self. Grow fond of your own company and learn that not everything needs to be done with a partner by your side. Learning to be alone can be a difficult thing, especially if we were nurtured profoundly during our upbringing. And while I’m not suggesting that solitude is the ultimate choice, I do believe that spending time alone will help us better understand who we are, what we seek in a companion, and the nature of our lonely feeling.
So next time you find yourself lonely, change your mindset. Remember, it’s all about perspective.