What does it really mean to be lonely?
“Lonely” is by far the most stereotyped adjective used to describe people who are alone. But I beg to disagree. Some people think that if you are not with a group of friends, it instantly means you are lonely. Please read this carefully:
THIS. IS. NOT. TRUE.
Take it from someone who is often asked the why-are-you-so-lonely question every time others see her all by herself. Yes, I am that kind of person whom you see alone in school most of the time. However, instead of people asking me “why are you alone?”, they usually ask me “why are you so lonely?”
Honestly! I mean, what makes them think I am lonely? Just because I am all by myself doesn’t necessarily mean I am lonely!
I personally think being “lonely” and being “alone” are two very different things. While both terms refer to having no companion, “loneliness” is associated with a feeling of sadness from being alone. In fact, according to the definition from Oxford Learner’s Dictionary, “lonely is being unhappy because you have no friends or people to talk to.”
For me, being lonely can also mean being unhappy because you feel alone even if you have company. You see, you can be lonely and feel empty even if you’re surrounded with a group of friends, especially if these friends make you feel unwelcome… like you don’t belong with them.
“The worst thing in life is not to end up all alone. The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel all alone.”Robin William
You may be hanging out with friends but their attention is focused on their phones or other stuff instead of actually having meaningful conversations with the people they are with. That can make you feel lonely.
Or perhaps these friends are having conversations about things you absolutely cannot relate to. This can make you feel out of place — and when one feels out of place, it can make that person feel like he/she doesn’t belong. This sense of being alienated can also translate to loneliness.
So “loneliness” is actually a feeling of sadness and discomfort from either being alone or in the company of others. It can be associated with a sense of being unwelcome. You can be lonely even if you’re not alone, especially when you just force yourself to be with people only for the sake of having companions, even if those people do not really make you feel like you’re part of them.
On the other hand, “alone” is just that: being all by yourself. It means you don’t have company, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you are lonely. In fact, being alone can be a wise choice one can make, especially for those who do not want to settle for less — may it be with friendship or romantic relationship. There are people who choose to be alone because they are so much happier and more contented just to be with themselves, rather than be with others who just make them feel unwelcome and out of place.
There are plenty of reasons why I prefer to be alone sometimes (or oftentimes), and here are my top three:
- I can be more productive.
- Don’t get me wrong. I don’t see my friends as distractions. However, I am the kind of person who can easily lose sight of my priorities when I enjoy the company of great friends and before I know it, I already ran out of time to do the things that I’m supposed to do. When I’m busy, I usually prefer to eat lunch alone so I can finish eating fast and still have time to do certain tasks before lunch-break ends.
- I haven’t found my kind of company yet.
- If I’m not busy, I usually eat with different sets of friends. And though I also enjoy their company, I think I just haven’t found a regular group whom I can totally relate to just yet. I want to get to know a lot of people so I don’t limit myself to hanging out with a particular group of friends for now.
- I want to find solace from my me-time.
- Although I am not totally an introvert, I think I prefer being solitary to enjoy a moment of peace sometimes. Whenever I’m alone, I feel so free.
“Learn to be alone and to like it. There is nothing more liberating and empowering than learning to enjoy your own company.”
There are some people who really enjoy the company of others but still prefer a moment of solitude from time to time. Well, I guess that’s me most of the time. This is not being anti-social — in fact, I love hanging out with (a few, chosen) friends and several random acquaintances. It’s just that, I value my alone-time. Being alone allows me to get to know myself deeper… and that makes me feel refreshed, recharged, and in peaceful bliss.