On Being ‘Alone’

“Language … has created the word ‘loneliness’ to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word ‘solitude’ to express the glory of being alone.” ~Paul Tillich

Here’s the thing about loneliness: You can choose to wallow in it, or you can embrace it. Most of the time, I embrace it and appreciate my solitude. Sometimes — because I’m still human, you know — I give into it. And I get sad and feel the emptiness of my home, my routine, my life closing in on me.

I’m not ashamed, either. I let myself feel those feelings. And I recognize it for what it is — a very temporary, short-term emotion. I hang out in my big, empty apartment — my silly cats my only company. I read a little, go for a solo run, maybe watch some TV. Mainly, I contemplate the state of an existence where someone could go for days without contact with another human — save coworkers — if she so chose.

No drop-in visitors. No dinner plans. No last-minute “meet me for coffee” phone calls. Not even a “hey, can you do me a favor” requests. It could be a lonely existence — if I were to let it go at that.

But I don’t. I take back the reins, stand up and rejoin the world.

I’ve learned to appreciate those fleeting moments of loneliness because they make me realize that I have a choice in how I view my life. I could live it as a miserable, lonely person — probably making those around miserable from my complaints, thus further shutting myself off from them. Or, I could live it as a single person who isn’t defined by her relationship status; who doesn’t let being “alone” get in her way of living a full life.

I put an effort into interacting with people because, while I truly enjoy the solitude of my life, connecting with other people is one of the joys of life:

  • I belong to a running club
  • I volunteer
  • I travel
  • I go to church
  • I dine out
  • I visit bookstores and cafes
  • I take classes and attend clinics
  • I go to the movies

And — gasp! — I do it all alone. Being single doesn’t have to mean I’m lonely all the time. And it certainly doesn’t mean I have to miss out on life’s little pleasures.

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2 responses to “On Being ‘Alone’

  1. Pingback: July 26, 2009: A Breaking Point « That's All Joy Wrote

  2. Pingback: 2011: In Bullets and Pictures « That's All Joy Wrote

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