14 Days of Love Day 9: Alone Is Not Lonely 

Ava Garcia, Managing Editor

I continue to see life through different lenses each and every year. My old idea of happiness was purely based on the number of friends I had, but as I lost friends, I learned how to stay content on my own. Many believe this concept of being alone directly relates to loneliness, but through my eyes, these terms are complete opposites. 

My ideal weekend includes laying in the sun while reading a book from start to finish until I am completely immersed in a world outside my own. Although it may sound boring to others, those moments of solitude tower over all the others. The notion of solitude correlating to loneliness never entirely made sense to me. Being alone is an opportunity to truly get to know every version of yourself, the good and the bad. In retrospect, this idea may seem scary, but as I spend more time with myself, this fear has begun to slowly fade. 

I have never been one to choose a party over a quiet night of watching a movie with my mom. I have tried to change my true self by stepping out of my comfort zone, but in the end, I always circle back to a quiet night with a book in my hand.

 There have been periods in my life where solitude has turned into a lonely feeling, but in those moments, I try to differentiate the feeling because being alone does not equal loneliness. Sometimes it feels like my only option is to hang out with my cat and read a book, but I have learned a “good time” is always up to perspective. My past self only saw the possibility of happiness with people around me, but now I see being alone as a chance to find ways to find happiness with myself, even if, at times, that does not seem possible. 

Choosing solitude and being alone does not in any way fall under being lonely because these are all choices. Loneliness does not always occur when you are alone; someone can feel lonely in a group of a thousand people. These terms are completely subjective to the way others experience them. 

Learning to accept that choosing solitude is okay remained a key step in my path toward allowing myself to put my needs before others without guilt following me. It remains extremely difficult for me to be okay with independence since social media is a massive addition to our generation. At times, seeing others having fun tends to make me feel uneasy at specific points in my life, which is still a flaw I strive to change. 

Last year I made it a goal to go to see a movie alone, which seems silly, but in the end, it was exhilarating. It provides a sense of independence that allows me to look at my solitude in a completely different light.

Social anxiety is something I struggle with daily, and I have realized that it does no good to put myself in uncomfortable positions time and time again. I feel eyes on me everywhere I go, which often puts pressure on me to surround myself with people to hide from the continuous anxious thoughts circulating in my mind. The thought of embracing myself once terrified me, but not anymore. These thoughts have begun to leave my mind as I realize the reality of being alone, even if this solitude seems depressing to others. Instead of judging others for preferring to be alone, step into their mindset and realize that those moments of solitude remain a safe haven where people can truly get to know themselves.