Upon asking someone what it means to be lonely, the response may be that it’s a place that only sad, depressed people know. Much to the contrary, loneliness is quite a complex enigma that is potentially symptomatic of various situations.
Loneliness doesn’t have to be an awful thing, but it’s also not always wonderful. Many people claim to fear being alone, but I believe they more so fear loneliness — an emotion that one is capable of experiencing while not being actually “alone” at all.
It is okay — even positive — to be lonely and alone. During my hours of isolation, I’ve seen some of the most beautiful creations come forth.
Solidarity allows someone to really see personal imperfections and odd habits, but also the power of the mind and spirit to rise above. Still, being alone can manifest into loneliness, which tends to feel much less productive and positive.
It’s tough to identify the exact moment that loneliness pulls up a chair to the dinner table or runs home with me after a jog, but when it greets me to ask whether I missed it, it can spark an overwhelming feeling of deflation. If it shows up for just a few days, it may take weeks to try and clean up its mess.
Loneliness will try to make you bitter and jealous. It’ll attempt to mar the conversation you’re having with an excited friend about her wonderful date.
It will convince you to stay in bed and have a pity party until you find the strength to push it away, which can take a lot of time.
It may set in as you navigate the grief of death — or a breakup that feels like one, or even the feeling of inadequacy after seeing engagement and wedding photos on Facebook.
Loneliness will make you believe that your life isn’t up to par. It might make you drink too much, eat too little and not speak up at all.
You’ll go to sleep with loneliness wake up to it coercing you to stay in bed — it will tell you that you’re better off isolated.
However, as quickly as it can take over your life, loneliness can leave. Work to spark its abandonment by complimenting the cashier as she scans your pint of ice cream — maybe you’ll even decide you no longer need the dessert.
Or, write about it to trap it on paper full of affirmations to remind yourself why you are good and worthy and capable.
So, if loneliness tries to greet you after a shower one day, take a bath that night. If it likes to sneak up behind you after a run, stay outside a little while longer until it grows tired of waiting for you to notice it.
Loneliness feeds on insecurities, so work to find and identify security in good things.
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