I used to hate being alone and used to feel lonely all the time, even in the company of people. But now, after everything (divorce, self discovery, etc.) I love it. I treasure and look forward to my alone time. I love the quiet, the solitude, the space to just be. I love being able to do what I want and often do nothing.
Being alone is a state of being; loneliness is a state of mind. Loneliness is an experience of isolation due to lack of connection — a lack of being seen and understood. Everyone needs varying degrees of connection with other people to help keep loneliness at bay. These social needs are determined by your individual genetics, temperament, environmental and social experiences. But being alone is a different situation completely. Being alone is doing things by yourself, but also doing them for yourself. Productive solitude requires internal exploration, a kind of labor which can be uncomfortable, even excruciating, especially at the beginning of practicing it. It might take a little bit of work before it turns into a pleasant experience. But once it does, it becomes maybe the most important relationship anybody ever has, the relationship you have with yourself.
Solitude can be productive only: if it is voluntary, if one can regulate one’s emotions “effectively,” if one can join a social group when desired, and if one can maintain positive relationships outside of it. When such conditions aren’t met, yes, solitude can be harmful.
Being alone can be the most empowering experience of your life. You can always find company in yourself. I know this Suburban Goddess Mom sure has!
Being alone is an art; embrace it. I sure do!