I’ve always loved being alone. I go to movies alone. I go on road trips alone. One time my roommate moved out, and I got to live alone. It was a dream, I tell you, a dream.
As an introvert, having my “alone time” is incredibly important. My mom knew this about me growing up and always made sure I had my alone time after a day of playing with friends. Even today, when I schedule meetings or get-togethers, I also have to schedule time to recover from them. And if I don’t — if I keep going and going without any refrain — my brain shuts down and I can’t function. We’re talking fetal position, people. My system will not take it. And it can take days to recoup.
So understand me when I say that I love being alone. It’s sacred time for me. It’s necessary for me to be able to walk around like a normal person.
Sometimes (and this has happened more than once), I find myself slipping from the necessity of time alone into the toxicity of loneliness. It’s muddy water, and the shift is gradual. I think to myself, “Oh, I’m okay, I need to be alone. I’m not lonely, I’m just recharging. I’ll feel better tomorrow.” When I’m in that state of mind, I cancel plans, I ignore responsibilities, and I do everything I can to make sure others don’t notice what I’m doing to myself.
When I hit that last part, a huge red light starts blinking. If I realize that I’m hiding my loneliness, that I’m actually ashamed of it, it’s time to press ‘pause’ on my LOST marathon because I need to step out into the fresh air and be present. I need to connect with some friends and participate in normal social interactions.
At least, that’s what I tend to think will solve my issue. Sadly, this isn’t what fixes loneliness. Sure, it helps me out, but it doesn’t fix everything. I wish I could tell you that it did. You could see your friends every day, you could see your significant other every day, you could go out and conquer the world every day, and you could still be lonely. Because loneliness happens when something is lacking. There’s pain, depression, hopelessness. Dig deep down, and you’ll find it’s rooted in an absolute need for someone else to fulfill you, to define you. You’ll seek out other people to fill what’s lacking. You’ll believe that you are incomplete if you are alone.
Aloneness holds the opposite belief. In it, you feel complete in who you are. The empty room doesn’t bother you, the silence doesn’t scare you. No one else is needed because you’re content with yourself. Instead of looking for people to give you something you’re missing, you’re pouring into them from the overflow inside you. There’s freedom in that.
When the huge red light starts blinking, I check myself. “Why do I feel this way? Why do I believe this about myself?” Most of the time the answers are lies I’m believing, so I sit down and I make a list of all the things I know to be true. I go to God and listen to what He says about me. I read the Word, I get life in me. And suddenly, being alone is building me up, not destroying me. I’m energized and confident, and it’s from there that I’m able to go out and pour into others. I can go out and interact with people as someone who is completely content with herself, not someone who needs them to cure my loneliness.
So, the next time you feel lonely, examine yourself. You have the power to pull yourself out of it, and being alone just might do it for you.
“…Sometimes the best cure to loneliness is, in fact, to be alone.” – Samuel Leighton-Dore
words by Abbey Geverdt and photo by Petra Lee