So you feel alone? Or is it that you feel lonely? Now before you roll your eyes and click out of this post because it seems like another generic ass, “I took Psych 101 in college so I’m clearly qualified to analyze your life,” do me a favor and stick around for like three more sentences and see where I’m going with this. If you not feeling what I’m throwing down, I’ll click out this post with you. Deal? Great, let’s begin with a little story…
The year is 2015 and from the outside looking in, I was basically winning at life. To the outside world, me as a recent college grad who managed to secure an amazing research job, was relocating back to the greatest city in the world (NYC, yerrr! Don’t fight me on it), has even better friends and family, and was about to embark on a dope ass trip to South Africa, I couldn’t possibly want or need for anything. Yet, what a lot of people didn’t know at the time was that I was exceptionally miserable. Try as I might, I simply could not find happiness in anything I did or anywhere I went. I severely struggled with feeling both alone and lonely. This, as you can imagine, pushed me to constantly surround myself with people to drown out the boisterous silence in my head. I hoped by doing so, their happiness would break through the cloud of aloneness hovering over me. Unfortunately, it didn’t and this cycle continued for an additional 2 years.
I remember the day “the switch” happened so clearly. I was sitting in my apartment, attempting to relax and just be present in my own space but I just couldn’t; my spirit was so unsettled for reasons unbeknownst to me in that moment. I felt so uncomfortable being by myself that I started to do anything that would distract me. So I did what I normally do when I’m feeling restless, I turned on my Spotify and got to cleaning (lol very anticlimactic, I know). After a few songs, Ms. Lauryn Hill blessed my speakers with her classic Doo Wop (That Thing). Now like many of y’all, we done heard this song 18 million times, but that day it really hit me. Like sis, “how you gonna win when you ain’t right within?” “how you gonna win when you ain’t right within?”…
…and I surely was not alright within. I spent so much time trying to avoid feeling alone that I sought companionship in everyone else but myself. Funnily enough, it was among the biggest crowd that I felt the most alone. With time, I came to realize that I only felt alone because I didn’t know what I needed to feel whole. So I began to research and read countless self-help articles, blogs, book etc. to better understand how to tap into my own self. The entire process has been pretty dope if I do say so myself. It’s so important to learn your kinks and determine ways to straighten them. I took time to learn my likes and dislikes, what makes me happy and what triggers threaten my happiness. I’ve learned to enjoy my own company because tbh, I’m poppin’ as I’m sure you are as well. I took myself on dates, learned when to spoil myself and when to put home girl in check. I was so desperate for inner peace that I didn’t leave room for feelings of aloneness. When I started to become at peace with myself, any doubts or negative thoughts I previously held about being alone or loneliness disseminated over time and turned into protection of my alone time.
To keep it brief (idk if I can say that being as though this post is anything but brief), I believe loneliness stems from a longing for a relationship with another person. It’s dependent on the company others to reduce that feeling of being lonely. Aloneness, however, is dependent on how you feel in your own company. Once you feel in your mind, there is peace, it’s gonna be pretty damn hard to feel alone ever again.
1. STAY IN THE PRESENT MOMENT
When we’re alone, we’re faced with our feelings and our thoughts. It’s harder to distract ourselves. As cliché as it sounds, we only exist in the present moment. The future hasn’t happened yet and you cannot repeat the past. Staying present and allowing your mind to experience what is happening in your current environment can help you understand your placement in that given moment.
2. DETERMINE WHAT BRINGS YOU JOY
Figure out the fundamental things in life that bring you joy. Whether that is quality time with friends and family, learning something new, a specific hobby, etc. find out what it is and meditate on that. Your mind will emanate peace thinking about the joys in your life.
3. DATE YOURSELF
This one was instrumental for me. Do you know how fun it is to date yourself? I know, sounds weird but it’s really amazing. Just like any human being, in order to build a relationship with someone, you have to get to know them. For most people that means hanging out regularly with that other person. Why shouldn’t you do the same thing except with yourself? Girl (or boy, all are welcome here) if you don’t get down to your local Applebee’s and order yourself that 2 for $20 special and enjoy a dinner date with yourself!
4. ALLOWING FOR HEALING
All of the emotions that arise when we feel alone can point to what we need to heal within ourselves. They can be like a sign on the road to freedom, saying, “Look over here. Take this exit.” Learn these feelings! They don’t need to be avoided. When we embrace them, it helps us feel stronger, like we can handle anything; and that can bring us peace.
5. KNOW THAT YOU HAVE SUPPORT
Seek help when you need it. While our alone time is highly valuable, it’s also important that we share and experience life with those that support us. So don’t be afraid to reach out to them during your highs and lows. Or, if your friends are anything like mine, they’ll hunt you down and force you do take on this crazy life with them regardless.
Moral of the story: I’m comfortable with being alone. The best version of myself requires a lot of alone time. I won’t apologize for that. Ever…and neither should you.