Why It’s Okay To Be Alone
Let me just put this out here. Being alone and feeling lonely are two completely different things.
Feeling lonely is internal. It’s all about how you feel relative to the environment or state you’re in. It’s also usually seen in a negative light. Most people don’t want to feel lonely because it makes them feel vulnerable. Often, they just want someone to be there for them, whether physically or emotionally.
Being alone, on the other hand, is just, well, to put it bluntly, it’s as simple as just being alone. Things like driving to work, doing a quick coffee run, and even just binge-watching on Netflix — those are all things you can do by yourself.
For the longest time, I’ve had people ask me how I felt every time my husband and I would be in separate countries. They say things like, “Don’t you feel lonely though?” or my personal favorite, “I don’t know how you do it. I hate being alone.”
Same, girl, same.
Growing up as an only child, I used to shadow my parents because I didn’t want to be left alone. I’d have make-believe friends, read tons of books to wear another person’s shoes, and I’d have pets — lots of them. I had an ant farm, a fish, rabbits, hamsters, and the usual cats and dogs.
I wasn’t really lonely. I just didn’t like being alone.
When Vergs was away in boot camp, I went through a phase where I just wanted to be out all the time. I hated staying at home because feelings of loneliness would just overcome me. I’d feel sorry for myself, cry, and wonder, “how in the world have I become this person?”
My point being, I hated it.
I spent all my weekends outside of the house. I’d voluntarily stay in the office beyond work hours because I wanted to keep my mind running 24/7. I’d hang out with family and friends so much that I mistook being alone for loneliness -- I never wanted to be by myself.
I was going through a deeper struggle internally because it was so exhausting trying to push away all the emotions.
I just didn’t want to deal with it. With any of it.
But as always, when emotions are repressed, they come back with a vengeance. So as much as I hated it, I had to face my problem head-on.
I had to learn to like being alone all over again. And boy, did that suck.
Not even gonna lie. I was a wreck during boot camp and his first deployment, which is why I felt like such a phony the first few times people would tell me they admired me for being so strong.
I mean, like are you serious? Haha!
I had to mentally tell myself that I was independent and that I was confident — even if I wasn’t feeling it at all. I had to fight back tears every time I felt a pang of loneliness when I was alone.
It was such a grueling battle, you guys. Internal struggles are so much harder to fix than external ones because it's like you can’t move on as a person without dealing with yourself. And as much as I hate confrontation and conflict, I didn’t really have a choice.
I had to get myself together.
After a few months, the tears lessened and the panic attacks weren’t as frequent. The places I once used to avoid were places I could go to again — all I had to do was brace myself and take a few deep breaths.
Now that a few years have passed and I’ve matured, I find that I love my little moments of solitude.
I now know the difference between being alone and feeling lonely. Recognizing that is already such a big thing for someone like me — the girl who practically never went anywhere alone.
Now, I can honestly say that I enjoy going to cafes alone, ordering a coffee and a sandwich, and just getting work done. I used to spend hours in the library before for the exact same reason.
Also, can I just say that being alone has instantly made me more productive because there is literally no one to talk to, which means I get more things ticked off on my to-do list. And another thing, the fact that I’m spending money on food while I’m there sort of makes me feel pressured to get my money’s worth, so I lay off social media as much as I can.
Anyway, my point is, I actually like being alone now.
Last month, I went to a blogger event and since I’m still getting settled here in San Diego, I went alone.
In all honesty, the old me would’ve totally just stayed home and wondered how the event went and so on. But I was just so done with stopping myself from getting the things I want, that I went, even if I didn’t know anyone who’d be there.
Btw, I left with a handful of newfound friends and I couldn't be any happier! It makes such a difference surrounding myself with like-minded bloggers who are super goal oriented.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned recently, it’s this: There’s a sense of strength in being alone. And once you get a taste of it, you won’t want to let it go.