Alone Isn’t Lonely

“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.”

– Olivia Wilde

I love spending time with my family and friends, I really do. Just hanging out, watching a movie? That’s great. Going out to dinner or just hanging out in the city is fantastic, too. However, there are times when I want nothing more than to be alone. It’s not that I don’t love being around people–I do. But, I also enjoy being by myself. I enjoy being left to my thoughts and observing the world around me at my own pace.

I think it’s refreshing, really. When I’m alone, there are no expectations. I am free to do as much or as little as I please. I think that a lot of people confuse being alone with being lonely. Though certainly you can be alone and lonely, and I have been before, I find the two are not always connected. I’ve been in a room full of people and felt very lonely, and I’ve been in my small apartment, entirely alone and felt completely content.

One of my favorite places to be alone is a bookstore. I think that’s cheating, though–I don’t really feel alone when all around me are characters itching to come alive. But really, winding my way through stacks of books, running my fingers along cracked spines and faded covers, without worrying about whether or not another person is bored and ready to go somewhere else is one of the best things in the world.

I’m also partial to coffee shops. They’re fantastic for watching other people, if you’re into that kind of thing. (I am.) Sometimes, I’ll bring a book, my iPod, or a pen, to give myself something to do with my hands. Sometimes, though, I’ll just sit and watch. Sometimes, I listen. I know it’s rude to eavesdrop, but you hear some great things over coffee.

And then there are the times when sitting in an empty apartment or quiet room with a cup of tea (and maybe playing your favorite music in the background) is all you can do. Those times, I think, are my favorite. The world is often a fast and confusing place, but sitting with a warm cup of tea and nothing but your thoughts to keep you company can slow it down, make it less scary.

While my happiness can certainly be affected by others, I do not want it to be dependent on them alone. I want to be able to find comfort and contentment in myself. I think the first step is being okay with being alone.

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite videos, “How to Be Alone”