In this day and age, being happy alone should be perfectly acceptable. Take it from someone who spends a lot of time solo: it’s not.
For starters, people seem to get the words “alone” and “lonely” mixed up. In my humble opinion, being by yourself is a choice you make. Being lonely usually isn’t. They aren’t at all alike. Sure, being by yourself can be lonely. So can being with others. To me, there’s no loneliness more awful than being with someone you care about and feeling like you’re by yourself. Been there, done that.
I choose to spend a good deal of my time in my own company. A sizeable part of that choice stems from the fact that I’m a writer, and anyone who claims to be able to write with people around 24/7 is full of something that I won’t mention. The other part of it is that I’ve spent enough time with individuals that I really didn’t want to be with to know who I’m willing to give my time to at this point. The list is pretty short, and since those people I want to hang around with only have so much of their lives to spare for me, well, you guessed it: the rest is spent by myself.
Here’s an interesting, but not surprising, discovery: I just put the word “alone” into Google Images in an attempt to find a picture to accompany this post. Most of what I got was negative. Silhouettes slumped over, begging for attention. Oh, forget it! I’ll use my own photograph! (That’s me in Antelope Canyon near Page, Arizona this past summer. Amazing place. Would have loved to be in there without the other several hundred visitors. One of the many places I’ve been that I would have liked to have to myself!)
As mentioned in my last post about my recent trip to Australia, I sometimes, but not always, travel alone. Does it get lonely? Sure. But it also buys me the ultimate freedom to do what I want to do. I more often than not feel that it’s other people I run into that have a bigger problem with seeing me alone than I have with being alone. It’s not my imagination that I’m frequently the recipient of sorrowful glances when I’m taking in some great place without the company of another. But I also know that there are many folks out there that can’t be alone. Over the years I’ve been familiar with a lot of people who would rather be with someone they don’t even like than suffer the stigma of being alone. Because aren’t you a loser if you aren’t surrounded by giggling masses? I’m happy to say that NO, you aren’t!
Just hang around Facebook for a while, and you’ll see lots of lonely posts. For a while there was this one going around that really irked me. It was of an old man in a restaurant, sitting at a table by himself. The implication was that he had just lost his wife and needed someone to talk to because he was so damn lonely. May I suggest that there is an alternate way of looking at a situation like this? Maybe the old guy wants to think about his wife and you’re bothering him by interrupting his thoughts. That’s the way I feel sometimes when someone insists that I “need company.” No really, I don’t! That’s just your guilty conscience making a false assumption. I know where to find companionship just fine if I need it. Maybe I need a DO NOT DISTURB sign on my back?
I guess you’ve probably guessed that I’m single. But I’m neither unwilling nor unable to be in a relationship. The problem is finding the right one. I’ve had enough wrong ones to know that it’s either right or it’s nothing. I don’t believe in sacrificing things I love to be with someone. Here’s an example: I’ve had men tell me that they don’t want me to travel anymore. My answer? “See you later. Going to Thailand.” My way of thinking is that there are things you can give up…and things you can’t. Traveling and writing are a part of me, and to push them aside to be with someone is like having an arm or a leg cut off. Would you give up a limb for your significant other? Then why are you letting someone talk you out of doing something that’s so important to you? Wouldn’t it just be better to find someone to share that love of something with? I haven’t done it yet. But do I know women who have it the way they want it? Sure do. Do I know more who don’t? Indeed. And I refuse to be one of them!
In conclusion, never assume that someone alone is suffering for attention. As I like to say, “The ability to be alone is a great gift, not an unfortunate curse.”