Alone but not lonely

Published On: March 1, 2019 08:33 AM NPT By: Anweiti Upadhyay

I’ve enjoyed solitude for as long as I can remember. Being alone or doing things by myself has never really bothered me. I actually prefer getting things done on my own rather than having someone tag along with me when I’m out and about. I suppose this also has to do with the fact that I’m an introvert. I’ve never seen being alone as a problem and I actually look forward to spending time by myself.

When I’m on my own, I don’t have to care about another person. I’m somebody who keeps prioritizing anyone who is with me above myself and do my best to make them feel comfortable however I can before I think about myself. Although that isn’t a negative behavioral trait, I’ve learned, over the years, that doing this will sometimes put you in situations where the other person will take advantage of you. Even when they aren’t (taking advantage), this habit of mine is really taxing for my own mind and body and, by the end of the day, I’m all burned out. When I’m alone, I can just do my own thing, be myself and live life at my own pace. I’m my first and only priority.

I can also focus and concentrate on the things I’m doing better when I’m alone than when I’m surrounded by other people. As much as I enjoy spending time with my friends, doing that when I should be studying or working is counterproductive. There was a time when I would actually finish my school work before I met up with friends even though our plan for the day was to work on that school assignment together because I knew, once we met one another, school work would be the last thing we would spend our time on. 

Although I’m somebody who isn’t very keen on physically draining activities or exercises, I genuinely enjoy walking. Most of the time, as long as I can reach my destination within an hour, I walk to the place instead of riding a vehicle – which is undoubtedly faster. I don’t own my own vehicle and anyone who has been on Kathmandu’s public transport even once knows how draining that experience is. And walking is honestly the only alone time I have throughout the day, besides when I’m sleeping, working or studying. I can think about the things that are troubling me freely, listen to the new music releases from my favorite artists, and catch up on the freshly updated episodes of my favorite podcasts when I’m walking.

I’ve also learned to value doing things on my own because it has made me a braver person. I was a shy kid. Because I didn’t really like socializing – then more so than now – I didn’t even get out of my house fearing that I’d run into somebody I recognized and then would have to greet that person. This made me fearful of the world and approaching people in general. Until about two years ago, at the age of 16, I couldn’t even go to a grocery store and buy things unless I had one of my parents tailing me. I would make them accompany me everywhere. Now that I have to deal with the world on my own, I learn new things every day. I feel like I’m also getting braver and smarter at negotiating the world, and my social skills have developed a lot in the past year.

Even though doing things alone is something I enjoy, I’ve noticed that sometimes people around me seem to think that the only reason I do things on my own is because I’m lonely. I’m not. I catch up with friends every few days and genuinely enjoy their company. I spend a lot of time with my family every day and we love listening to one another and playfully bantering over things. Being an introvert, having these few close connections is enough to get me through life. I don’t want to mingle with a gazillion people just to be social and still have no one close to confide in. I think living life this way (having a small circle of people I’m really close to and trust with my life) is the easier way to be.

Also, assuming whether someone is lonely or not based on how many people they interact with on a daily basis is really ineffective and actually quite silly too. If I meet a lot of people throughout the day and always have someone tagging along with me when I’m doing things doesn’t mean that I’m not lonely. One of my closest friends in high school was one of the most popular students in our school and one of the most outgoing and social people I’ve met in my life. She was friends with everyone, even the teachers, the school staff and people from other departments and faculties. Later on, I found out she was clinically depressed and suffered from chronic loneliness. But no one would think about calling her lonely because she was very outgoing and always surrounded by people.

As humans, all of us get lonely at times. I have to admit that time and again I do feel slightly lonely and crave other people’s company. But I take that as a positive feeling. Feelings like that makes me appreciate people who genuinely enjoy my company and whose company I enjoy as well. I believe that if we don’t feel lonely time and again, we might start taking the people who are closest to us and the ones we meet often for granted.

Being alone and being lonely isn’t the same thing. And I think it’s time people stop mixing these two things together. Even the most outgoing and extroverted person feels lonely at times. Being or not being lonely depends on a lot of things including an individual’s mindset, perception, and situations. Some of us take being alone as a liberating activity. I choose to be alone. I read somewhere that if you’re alone by choice, chances are, you aren’t lonely, just love spending time with yourself.


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