I used to regard loneliness as this misshapen emptiness — one that existed for the sole purpose of being temporarily filled by other human beings, ones who we convince ourselves to make some curious, broken, part of us a bit more normal. A bit more whole. As simple as A + B, to evade loneliness, be incessantly social.
Don't get me wrong, human nature craves conversation. We thrive off of social interaction and relationships. But in a generation so generously connected to one another, I often notice a strong avoidance toward alone time. There's always someone to call, something to do, somewhere to be.
Here's how and why you need to start spending time alone in order to stop feeling lonely in your own company.
To understand the avoidance of being alone, you must find the root of it. In my experience, surrounding myself with people only masked the lack of certainty in myself that I refused to let surface. There were no tough questions that I needed to face. I didn't have to grow and evolve or understand what I needed in life to feel fulfilled. There was no time to question my purpose or to accept my flaws and shortcomings.
In a crowd of people, I was whoever they wanted me to be. I liked that I could enjoy what everyone else enjoyed and no one would question it. I didn't have to find myself, nurture undiscovered passions, or explore unfamiliar territory. When the crowd becomes your voice, you often forget the sound of your own. People became an escape, that is, from what my own company reminded me of — a lack of interest in, well, anything. Fear of the future and insecurity in my capabilities. The feeling of indecision and hesitation every time I thought about who I was, or who I'd ever become. Yes, self-awareness is uncomfortable, I get it. But it's the only way to move forward. Start asking yourself why it is that you feel so uncomfortable with yourself.
Although the idea may seem paradoxical there are, in fact, a multitude of ways in which alone time can benefit you and aid in the resolution of loneliness. Solitude births creativity and self-discovery. To put it simply, no one knows you the way that you know yourself. The motivations, aspirations, and skill-sets that comprise the core of your being can only be truly brought to light through your own self-exploration.
Without the opinions and noise of others, you are forced to develop your own patterns of thought, to consider outcomes, and weigh options based solely on your own intuitions and experiences. There is no influence other than that of your own life. Having a well-layered thought or developed idea aids in the discovery of who you are and what you have to say.
Spending time with your own mind returns to you the voice you may be so perpetually used to muffling in the crowd.
How long has it been since you've taken up a hobby or learned a new skill? It wasn't until quarantine that I realized how long I've left myself to just be content in what I already know and what I can already do. Alone time gives you just that — time. There are no distractions, no one to prove yourself to.
Take the time to find what brings you joy, what makes you content with what you're doing, even if no one is around to see it. Make your time productive. Make small strides to immerse yourself in what gives you purpose, or at the very least, a new experience. When you hone a skill and find your niche, you release yourself from the dependence of others and what they make you. As cliche as it may be, you genuinely will never know until you try. You decide for yourself at what point you stop being what others have carved you as and start learning who you truly are in order to begin loving yourself with or without company.
Sometimes we can tend to cling to people who fill a gap or mask insecurity in our life. We depend on them, in a sense. For example, if you've ever felt hard to love, you may have found yourself clinging to people that invalidated that with generous attention, in whatever form it came. They fill the gap. If you've ever feared the thought of being boring or average you may have clung to the people that are always out, always partying, always around. Their company assures you that you're fun, you fit in, etc. What it boils down to is a dependency on others due to a lack of certainty in ourselves. When you take the time to become comfortable with your own thoughts and opinions, you develop a sense of self that doesn't rely on others to tell you who you are or what you think. Try things alone. Go for a drive, go get coffee, go to the park. Familiarize yourself with your own company, and your own character. When you discover who you are, you stop relying on others to make you someone.
The goal is not to stop socializing or to be perpetually alone, but to stop fearing it — to feel content with your own company when no one else is around.