Words we love: alone but not lonely
By Tara Crean, Editorial Consultant
Many of us will have spent more time alone over the past few months than ever before, thanks to the pandemic.
Some will have experienced loneliness. But being lonely and alone are very different things. Loneliness is a psychological state. It’s what you feel when you perceive that social relationships are less in quantity and quality than desired. Being alone is simply the physical state of not being with another individual.
Oscar Wilde was right when he said: “I think it’s very healthy to spend time alone. You need to know how to be alone and not be defined by another person.”
The last time I felt this way was when I travelled the world, Lonely Planet in hand, for a year or so on my tod. People said: “Wouldn’t you have had more fun if you’d gone with a friend?” I’d have been less freaked out, perhaps, when I jumped on the wrong train in Kuala Lumpur and ended up in the heart of the jungle instead of at the beach. Or when I booked a room in a Chinese brothel thinking it was a hostel.
But I learned so much about myself. About my strengths, weaknesses and insecurities. When I got home, I was a better, stronger person. It’s because of that time that I can cope with most of what life throws at me. That I can get over things and move on. That I get on with pretty much anyone I meet. That I don’t want to waste my life focusing on the negatives. That I know how lucky I am.
The past few months have reminded me how important those lessons were. I like knowing I have the tools I need to look after myself. And that’s what being alone brings.