Recently I spent almost two weeks in The DC Edit’s office alone. When I told my friends I was going to be alone at work for fourteen days, they told me I should work from home instead. “If not, you’ll be super lonely!” After five days of hanging out with myself in the office, they asked if I was already shrivelling from loneliness, boredom and a lack of human interaction.
Well, not exactly.
At this point, a necessary disclaimer: I certainly disagree that being alone immediately equates to being lonely. Although, for what it appears to be and perhaps is frequently assumed as so, this piece is dedicated to being alone, loneliness and everything else in between.
A Lesson In Loneliness
I have always found myself rather alone, but I haven’t always liked it.
For a long time, I fervently believed that being alone was not the way to go. Almost, that it was not the way to live. The irony that I didn’t actually mind being alone and deliberately found or made opportunities to be lonely, deeply bothered me. I wanted to be out there (preferably everywhere), get to know people, I desired the desire to include myself all the time…and importantly, longed for an insatiable social appetite.
At first, I was convinced that my preference for loneliness was entirely a phase; the party just hadn’t begun for me yet. For a brief period in my teens, I even took the plunge headfirst and blind and attempted showing up everywhere. It would be a whole year with the volume turned up far too high in every corner of my social life. I ended up taking a bigger bite than I could (or ever wanted to) chew.
In its aftermath, I was thoroughly expended. It became glaringly obvious that being alone was to be an indispensable part of my existence. Not quite the epiphany I was expecting because doesn’t it suck to be alone?
Then I got around to accepting my loneliness…and fell in love.
Accompany Yourself (So No One Has To)
The most important thing my loneliness has taught me is that you don’t need to beg to be included. Not to be confused with pretending you chose to be alone when you were in fact left out, but simply accepting that it is okay to be lonely. Choosing to be alone has taught me how to manage being left alone, because if I have to accompany myself I will and I can.
There is something quite compelling, nearly seductive, about spending time lonely and away from the pulse of socialising or the bearing of social rules. It is surprisingly reinvigorating to be as unaccountable and unreliable as I like, in the absence of anyone to answer to. Don’t get me wrong — I love company — but I also adore being alone and to a certain extent, have realised that I need to be at some point in time.
In the muted times spent accompanying myself, I seem to have found my own pinnacle of freedom and calm.
What About A Lonely Life?
It is a slippery slope.
I would be lying if I said I haven’t realised how overly chummy I have gotten with my loneliness. Maybe, it has even begun morphing from a healthy recharge to a dangerous escape mechanism; I no longer want to push myself out there because oh well, I can just be alone. On one hand, learning to love my loneliness means that if I do end up solo-tripping life, it wouldn’t be the worst thing. Although, it could be the greatest tragedy that I learned to love something at the expense of everything else.
I have no regrets learning to accompany myself; but I might have become as blindly enamoured with being alone as I was ardent about escaping it before. I guess, this love letter is also the beginning of another journey in learning to have loneliness complement my life, but never consume it.
For now, here’s to everyone else who has found themselves buoyant in a lovely but lonely limbo; I hope we eventually find our places and equilibrium — good luck.
And take care,