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A few months ago, I wrote about being alone, feeling lonely, and being okay with both.
My big takeaway from living my life and writing the first part of this story is the realization that life is not either/or. Life lies between the “and.”
Being alone doesn’t automatically mean we’re lonely. It could but it doesn’t have to.
And being with someone doesn’t mean we’re never lonely.
We can be alone and feel lonely. We can be in a relationship and be lonely.
This is a personal conversation I’ve been having with myself and many of my friends recently. I find it so interesting that I thought I should continue to explore it and see what others think about this state of being.
Here are nine more quotes that show me I can be alone, feel lonely, and still be okay:
1. “No, I may not be physically alone. But mentally there is no one in sight.” ~ Anonymous
This epitomizes what I’ve experienced my whole life. As a city girl, through and through, I’ve been surrounded by crowds of people all the time. But that has never reduced the sense of loneliness I’ve felt. Surrounding yourself with more people just adds more noise, and it’s essential to understand that.
2. “Sometimes life is too hard to be alone and sometimes life is too good to be alone.” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert
Amen! I struggle with this all the time. I experienced the first part in all its biting harshness in the aftermath of my personal tragedy in December 2020. For the first time in a long time, solitude and being alone became my enemy. I needed people. I needed noise. I desperately wanted to lose my grief for at least a few hours, and so I looked for people to fulfill that need. But wouldn’t you know it? Life doesn’t always work out the way you want.
The tragedy occurred smack-dab in the middle of the pandemic. And the ones who genuinely loved me (which I found out much, much later) were too far away from me and couldn’t be with me physically. So, I clung. I clung to those who were geographically close to me. I clung to relationships with those who did not want me around and actively looked for ways to offload me. I learned a bitter lesson about human behavior during that phase of my life.
The second part of Gilbert’s quote hasn’t happened a whole lot in my life. And I’m happy that the few times life has been incredible I have been lucky enough to share those moments with those I loved.
3. “Like it or not, there are times when you need to be alone; times when you need to be lonely; times when you need to need other people.” ~ Alan Bradley
For most of us who choose to be alone, it’s still not an either/or situation. That’s why I can never say something like, “Solitude is my best friend”—because it’s not. Personally, I’m just happy being alone significantly more than most people. But that doesn’t mean I want to always be alone. Because I don’t.
4. “Nobody likes being alone that much. I don’t go out of my way to make friends, that’s all. It just leads to disappointment.” ~ Haruki Murakami
I so agree! I cannot believe that there is anyone on this planet who is 100 percent happy on their own. Most of us make our peace and find a way to navigate the hand we’re dealt, but I’m hard-pressed to believe that being alone is a happy and fulfilling choice at all times. But with age, I’ve also realized that I don’t need a roomful of people in my life to make me satisfied. I have three or four ride-or-die friends and they’re more than enough for me. I no longer measure my friendships by quantity; it’s the quality that matters. And I’m blessed beyond belief to have those few people who keep me close to their hearts. That’s enough.
5. “Most women would not be happy being me. People say, ‘But you’re alone.’ But I don’t feel alone. I feel very un-alone.” ~ Stevie Nicks
Well bravo, Stevie! I don’t know how much I believe this but bravo.
6. “I’m fiercely independent, but I’m also terrified of being alone.” ~ Adam Levine
This is such an honest statement. I haven’t heard much of Adam Levine’s music but I applaud him for his honesty. Unlike the Stevie Nicks quote, this one I can identify with. I’m also fiercely independent. And while I’m not terrified, the older I get the more I wonder about the decision I’ve made to be alone.
7. “If you learn to really sit with loneliness and embrace it for the gift that it is…an opportunity to get to know you, to learn how strong you really are, to depend on no one but you for your happiness…you will realize that a little loneliness goes a long way in creating a richer, deeper, more vibrant and colorful you.” ~ Mandy Hale
I absolutely agree. I’m an artist who believes that one has to have lived life, suffered, and seen the worst that life has offered to truly create art. And not just good art—even bad art comes from a place of suffering. While being alone and feeling lonely sometimes is not quite the suffering I’m referring to, those two emotions allow me to create a world that is extremely meaningful to me: the world of being a writer. I’m able to understand the depth and meaning of life and its many challenges because I have faced them, often on my own. And with time, I’ve embraced that state of being and it has afforded me much happiness.
8. “Some see solitude as loneliness. Others see it as a foetal state from which to blunder out into the world. I see it as a breathing space for contemplation and, indeed, breeding space for ideas.” ~ Stewart Stafford
I see them both. Sometimes, solitude is loneliness for me. But most other times, it allows me that space to just sit and breathe and create. And that is priceless.
9. “Never f*ck with someone who is not afraid to be alone. You will lose every single time.” ~ Anonymous
Oh, yes. I always knew this, but in the aftermath of the tragedy of December 2020, I learned this even more. So, while I’ve been strong and comfortable on my own, the aftermath of this loss made me weak. During the six months after, I clung to people who shoved me aside. The next six months forced me to be on my own because I had no choice. I luckily had two full-time jobs to drown my grief in, but these were the toughest months of my life. I was gutted inside and out of my own soul. But toward the end of that second six-month phase, I started to bounce back.
While I will always, always, always remember and mourn the loved ones I lost, I no longer mourn those previously close-ones in my life whom I lost to apathetic behavior. I’ve become so much stronger than ever before.
The way I see it, the worst that can happen to someone already happened to me. My lifeline and my support systems are gone. But I know now that while I will feel their loss every single day, I will not break simply because I’m alone. In fact, I’m more positive and more in control of my life than I have ever been. And that, my friends, is a strength you cannot buy.