“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.