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In almost every possible way, the past two-plus years of the pandemic sucked for the whole world.
And it was no different for me. Toss in my big, personal tragedy that occurred in December 2020, and I still can’t wait for this horrific time in my life to be over.
But there was one aspect of the pandemic that was extremely difficult for most people on this planet that I actually came out of relatively unscathed: not being able to see people face-to-face, or being alone.
For me, the last two years were just an extension of my earlier life. I’ve always been a loner and comfortable with my own company. Don’t get me wrong, I love people and friends and family, but if I didn’t have any of them around for an extended period of time, I was fine. So, when the pandemic hit, it just felt like my old life. And although it was still tough for me, I think I just dealt with that aspect relatively easier than many others.
This got me to thinking about being alone and feeling lonely.
One is a matter of choice, and the other is a state of being.
Over the years, I’ve found myself with others in my life and I’ve also found myself completely alone.
I liked both.
I’ve also found myself feeling lonely with and without people, and feeling fulfilled with company and when I’ve been alone.
Basically, I’ve never been able to say whether I like being with others or being alone more. Or that I never felt lonely. I wish I could, but the fact is I can’t. The issue is that in some ways, society expects you to pick a box and stay inside it. Either you “choose” to be alone, which means you should always rejoice in being alone and never, ever claim to be lonely, or you’re alone and you don’t want to be and you’re miserable, or you believe that being in any relationship is somehow always better than being alone.
Sorry, that’s a big, fat no for me.
I find myself navigating all of these situations in my life. And I no longer want to feel pressured into feeling just one way and being forced to stick with it.
These 10 quotes speak to the issue of being alone and feeling lonely and how we can feel all kinds of feels about both these situations without any regret or apologies. They have helped me over the years, and I hope they do the same for you.
1. “It’s far better to be unhappy alone than unhappy with someone.” ~ Marilyn Monroe
I’m starting with a quote that really nails it. This idea is fundamental to my existence, and I came to this realization early on in my life. There is nothing worse than living a miserable life with someone who doesn’t get you just so you don’t have to be alone. I see these types of relationships everywhere and I’m happy I never settled.
2. “I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people that make you feel all alone.” ~ Robin Williams (via “World’s Greatest Dad,” written and directed by Bobcat Goldthwait)
Oh, my god. There is so much truth to what Williams says. After having had some sh*tty experiences in my life, I can proudly state that the best relationship I’ve ever had is with my Toshiba laptop. Okay, I jest. But the above quote is so true. It’s important for all of us to understand that it’s better to be happy and alone than be miserable with someone. There are so many of us who don’t even allow ourselves to try to be alone. From having the freedom to say what we want, live how we want, wake up at noon if we want, not have to make polite conversation with people we hate, eat frozen pizza if we want, being alone has a lot going for it. Also, most don’t even realize that, maybe, just maybe, they might actually enjoy being on their own.
3. “There are some places in life where you can only go alone. Embrace the beauty of your solo journey.” ~ Mandy Hale
I know this is supposed to be philosophical, but I’m choosing to look at it literally. While I love traveling with family and friends, there is something so incredibly freeing to explore and discover the world on your own. Try it.
4. “Solitude is the best friend I’ve ever had. How could I ever be lonely when I am with my own best self?” ~ Anoir Ou-Chad
I want to believe this. But I will admit, it’s not always easy. Personally, solitude is not my best friend. I have some really amazing humans who are my best friends, but I don’t fear solitude. And most times, I revel in my solitude. I also cannot agree 100 percent with the second part of the quote. I’d say, more often than not, I’m never lonely on my own. But after dealing with profound loss at the end of 2020, I’m not going to lie, being on my own has been tough. But it gets easier. My grief made me a different person from who I was before, and I had to learn to become friends with the new me. And as I started to find my inner strength and learn to live with grief, I slowly started to reacquaint myself with the new me.
5. “Truth is, I’m generally happiest when it’s just me. It’s okay to be madly in love with yourself.” ~ Richelle E. Goodrich
I’m definitely not—never have been, never will be—madly in love with myself. I don’t hate myself, but I don’t love myself either. I look at myself the way I look at most people. I like most people. I also like myself, most of the time. But I get what’s being said here even if I don’t necessarily think it applies to me.
6. “Alone had always felt like an actual place to me, as if it weren’t a state of being, but rather a room where I could retreat to be who I really was.” ~ Cheryl Strayed
This is so true for me. Being alone wasn’t something I went out of my way to look for—it just gradually happened. And the more it happened, the more it started to feel like an actual space. I literally found myself when I went to America for grad school on my own. And I realized how happy, how comfortable, how “enough” I was for myself. I love people. I love family. I love friends. But I’m also completely at peace on my own.
7. “Until you get comfortable with being alone, you’ll never know if you’re choosing someone out of love or loneliness.” ~ Mandy Hale
Again, so true. You need to feel complete on your own first. And then you’ll know if you’re with someone because you are choosing to be with them. So many are stuck in brutal and dead-end relationships because they’d rather suffer through being in a relationship because they’re worried about winging it on their own.
8. “The trouble is not that I am single and likely to stay single, but that I am lonely and likely to stay lonely.” ~ Charlotte Brontë
What a completely honest statement! I think almost 99.9 percent of the people on this planet fear this, even though it’s a genuinely true and honest feeling. There are probably a miniscule number of people who are genuinely happy being alone. I know that I’m comfortable 90 percent of the time. And, as I get older, the other 10 percent is spent wondering if this choice I made for myself in the brashness of youth will necessarily carry me through. The joy of being alone now could make me lonely with age. I don’t know.
9. “Some people can’t stand being alone. I love solitude and silence. But when I come out of it, I’m a regular talking machine. It’s all or nothing for me.” ~ Celine Dion
Me too, Celine! It’s strange, but I consider myself a totally reserved loner. A complete introvert. Every time I’m invited to a party and I decide to go, I’m filled with fear and angst. Most times I give up and just don’t go. My closest friends would laugh out loud at that description though. Because when I do go, and I find my tribe, you cannot shut me up. I enjoy myself, chide myself for being so worried, and go on to have fun. Then I come back to my private space and the introvert in me comes out again. I find my peace in solitude and silence…and then I start to worry about the next invite I’m going to get! It’s a never-ending, vicious cycle.
10. “Loneliness is, like, when you wish someone else was there, and solitude is when you enjoy being alone. I don’t always wanna be alone, but I definitely like pockets of solitude to recharge and come back to myself. I think that’s so important for everyone.” ~ Jonathan Van Ness
I decided to finish this piece with this quote because it really gets to the bottom of the alone versus lonely debate. Loneliness can make you yearn, break your heart, and mess with your head. It looks at you and asks for more. But solitude? It allows you to enjoy the state of being on your own.
One takes your power away (if you let it). The other empowers you.
This isn’t an either/or situation for me. I love being with others. But I also love being on my own. But that’s not to say I don’t feel lonely when I’m with people or when I’m by myself. Over the years, I’ve tried to pretend to be someone I’m not. And then I asked myself: Who am I fooling?
I tried to be as honest a possible with this collection of quotes and what they mean to me. I hope it inspires you to look into your own lives as well. Do you connect with any of these quotes? Let me know in the comments below!