Alone or Lonely?
I am surrounded by an abundance of relationships. My family, growing friendships that are increasingly proximal (not just close friends that live far away), a close-knit work team, plus I have the privilege of seeing and connecting with hundreds of people throughout the week as part of my job. In the past few weeks, I found myself feeling irritable, easily frustrated and “in need” of deeper connection. While I believe we all truly do need connections with others to be fully alive, to fully express our humanity, I have discovered that I was outsourcing my need to be connected with myself and projecting it onto others. I felt lonely. This was because 1) I was alone and 2) I made a choice not to accept that aloneness, but to resist it. In short, I discovered aloneness is part of life, but loneliness is a choice.
I think being alone is bound into the fabric of human life. We all live in our own universe; our imagination and perception of our unique life can be experienced by no one but ourselves. Add to that creating a life of meaning and purpose and you are bound to find yourself with places of aloneness. Even with all the relational privilege I have, I am still present to how I am alone. I'm learning to accept and embrace being alone, to choose it, to seek it out when I can. I'm finding joy not only in being connected to others but in being present to myself.
The next time you begin to feel lonely or sorry for yourself, consider: Aloneness is part of life, loneliness is a choice.