Solace in Solitude

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Loneliness is a decision. No one forces you into feeling lonely, and no one can pull you away from it. No one except for you. There is an incredible distinction between being alone and being lonely, and people often feed into the former by not understanding how to accomplish the latter. In no way are these two exclusively tied to one another.

I met this woman who traveled with her husband each summer on their boat. For the majority of the summer, they are confined to the boat and, therefore, to one another. What could be better? She gets to spend time each day and all day with the one she loves. She told me about how wonderful living on the boat was and all the things she enjoyed out on the open water. Toward the end of the summer, the time comes where her husband leaves the boat for work and she finishes travelling by herself. While, naturally, one would assume assume how lonely she must have been upon his departure, it was quite the opposite. Her smile stretched with a hint of guilt as she told me how nice it was to travel alone. She attributed it to one thing. Making less decisions.

When you’re alone, you don’t have to tend to anyone, wait on them, or be conscious of their doings. You don’t have to ask what they want to eat or make plans for the day. The amount of decisions we make can cause us stress, and we all know how detrimental a surplus of that can be.

It may sound strange, but you’re allowed to be selfish. Solitude and personal time allow for you to focus on yourself in a way you could never do with company. Your plans aren’t contingent on anyone but yourself and your days can be whimsical to no demise.

On the other hand, loneliness can cause sluggishness, indifference, and stagnation. Especially in this digital age, being consumed by Netflix and social media becomes increasingly more enticing when lonely. But solitude can be liberating and full of exploration.

Think about it, why does this occur? Why do people become lonely? By definition, loneliness is sadness because of a lack of company or friends. At first instinct, combatting this is done by surrounding yourself with people, but that neglects the first part of the definition. Sadness.

So what is the easiest way to make yourself happy? A quick answer might be doing what you love. It doesn’t have to be one grandiose event after another, rather it may be better to do a bunch of small things, so when you look back, you have a list of joyful moments to refer to. Whether it be pouring yourself a cup of coffee, going to the gym, or watching the sunset, find those moments that compile satisfaction.

I felt lonely. I lived alone for three months in one of the most remote islands in the world so far away from friends and family. But then I realized I was able to use this solitude to my benefit.

Instead of dwelling on being lonely, embrace being alone.

Story Submitted by David