I’ve long been a fan of Carla’s ponderings, often bookmarking them for more consideration.
I was away from home and my computer when I saw her I’m lonely post, so tweeted her to say I’d comment later.
I also added.
I often feel alone rather than lonely.
It started a Twitter-enforced 140 character conversation about the difference between the two, which proved somewhat difficult. Hence, this post.
(Carla note: There’s also the fact I begged for the post. I love Deborah’s writing.)
One of my favourite authors, Anita Brookner , first caused me to ponder the difference between aloneness and loneliness. She writes about both. Beautifully.
I’ve been single for my entire adult life. Despite several solo attempts, I’m also childless. And I’ve basically lived by myself for 23-24 years.
As I’m sure you can imagine—I’m very much used to solitude.
But do I get lonely?
Nope. Never, well… rarely.
I’m fairly sure it’s partially because I’m an introvert.
My personality test results surprise many who know me superficially because I can be loud. I can appear confident. I’m fine in groups. I’m a former diplomat and I know how to schmooze. Plus, I can talk the legs off a… whatever one talks the legs off.
But I much prefer to be alone.
Like all good introverts I draw energy and nourishment from within.
Before my seachange two years ago I worked in roles requiring much liaising and networking. My work days were busy and sociable. As a result, my nights, weekends and holidays were spent bunkered down in my apartment. Alone.
I’d occasionally catch up with friends or extended family, but it wasn’t uncommon that I’d not see / speak to another person all weekend (made even easier of course with the advent of self-service at the library and supermarket!).
I think Carla’s post was spot-on in drawing connections between loneliness and boredom; and between loneliness and habit.
I’ve always been able to entertain myself with minimal effort and resources. Whether it’s a good thing or not, I spend a lot of time in my own head.
Even as a teenager when home from University my BFF next door would be bored and itching to do things while I was happy to lie around and read: happy with my own company.
I like my alone time. I appreciate my alone time. I need my alone time.
Like I said, I rarely feel lonely. Particularly in this day and age where we have a world at our fingertips. Friends contactable by email, virtual buddies on social media.
What I do feel sometimes however, is alone.
Carla’s post provided a definition of loneliness as: a lack of rewarding social interactions. She reminded us that loneliness is a feeling not fact.
Rationally I know that, conversely, aloneness is not a feeling. It’s a fact. It’s easily measurable—multiple personality disorders and invisible friends aside.
Being ‘alone’ is not a feeling. Until it is.
For me it’s not about needing others around me. Being alone is very different to feeling alone. Aloneness is about feeling isolated—mentally, intellectually and emotionally. A lack of connectedness perhaps?
Like I said, I find much of the nourishment I need from within, restored by watching television, reading (a lot) and engaging with others on social media, and a few friends in real life.
However, there are times when I need to feel more connected or grounded and remind myself that I’m not ‘alone’.
Sometimes it’s about finding my tribe—people with similar interests or passions. Last year I came away from a book blogging forum awakened from my life-sucks malaise. Other times it’s about the mundane and I’ll gatecrash my friend’s 3yr old’s swimming lesson for a dose of normality.
The trick of course—and something I’m yet to master—is to be more proactive in making the necessary connections, not allowing myself to become isolated and alone.
And then of course there’s the balance between pushing others away to give me space, but still on hand when I need them.
Fortunately I’ve surrounded myself with a close-knit group of friends and family who know me well. They ‘get’ my need for alone-time, but will occasionally intervene if they think I’ve had too much of it!
- Do you agree that we can ‘feel’ alone, not just be alone?
Do you ever get a sense of aloneness?
Deborah is a 40-something Australian blogger currently in the midst of setting up a freelance writing business. She blogs at Debbish about books, not-dieting and life in general.