After returning from my solo camping trip, I have thought a lot about being alone. There seem to be many ways in which one can be alone. This post came off a bit more “self-help” than intended, but it is what it is.
1- Being alone by choice.
This is by far the best way to be alone. You have complete control over how, where, and why you are alone. It is both empowering and relaxing, giving you a sense of independence and confidence. I used to be terrified of being alone. (That awful feeling that the world is having fun without you- Anne Lamott mentions it in one of her books, “She said she wasn’t paranoid. She just worried that all her friends got together in small groups and talked meanly about her.” To conquer our insecurities we must learn to be alone.) But the more I embraced it and did things alone purposefully, the less terrifying it became. Sure, you miss out on sharing your experience with others, but you have the opportunity to share your experience with yourself, to find yourself and reflect. Being alone by choice also makes you more self-aware. You start to realize all your habits, good and bad alike. Being alone gives you the opportunity to acknowledge and curb your worse habits, or discover other outlets for them. Travel alone. Run alone. Go out to eat at a sit-down restaurant alone. Go to a movie alone. Camp alone. Live alone. (That last one is a little more difficult given the cost of living in a 1-bedroom apartment, but I’m sure is achievable and enjoyable to many). And enjoy it. Revel in your solo accomplishments and enjoyments.
2- Being alone out of frustration and/or anxiety.
This might be one of the most common ways of being alone. You make plans, they fall through. You make plans, you get stood up. You make plans, people run late and the plans are foiled. You plan a party and no one can attend. You are invited to a party, but hardly know anyone in attendance so you stay home. You give up on making plans out of failed attempts. You give up on hanging out with anyone because you were “supposed to” do something else. It’s all so wishy-washy. Do not doom your alone time with a pity party. This is where you do one of two things. You either become proactive and figure your shit out with friends, or you turn being alone into a choice and do something enjoyable. (ie, make plans with yourself!)
3+- Being alone out of necessity. Being alone by default. Being alone out of loneliness. Being alone out of laziness/procrastination. In reality, all the other reasons for being alone begin to blend into each other. If you’re being alone out of necessity (SARS, bird flu, chicken pox), just sleep a lot, make yourself a bowl of soup, and enjoy your day off from work. I bet there is someone in your life who would come see you regardless of your illness and make you a grilled cheese. I can probably name a dozen people I would risk getting the bird flu for if they were in desperate need of a grilled cheese and unable to move. If you’re being lazy then you are wasting your day. See “being alone by choice.” Or, figure your shit out and do something. And quit complaining. If you are a hermit who just can’t deal with being around people? Get a dog, they make awesome companions. Don’t waste your time wishing you weren’t alone. Loneliness is a silent killer.