Blog Archive

Being Alone vs. Being Lonely

September 1, 2014

Featured music: “The Boxer” by Jerry Douglas feat. Mumford & Sons

One has to love lazy days like this – bright and sunny – a tiny chill in the air. A holiday. The first day of September. Hot drinks on the couch (thanks to a dear friend’s suggestion, I mixed some pumpkin spice into my BUTTER PECAN coffee grinds this morning – delightful) and incense burning and movies on Netflix droning in the background. Man I LOVE Catch Me If You Can.

Maybe I allow myself to think too much sometimes, to get into my own head. I wake up appallingly early (without fail), tackle a run, then scurry home and put on a cozy oversized hoodie and go through a couple French presses of obscenely strong tar coffee. I start a few pages of one of the seventeen library books I have checked out right now and scroll through Netflix selections and clip my nails and read a few more pages. But mostly I’m wondering – How can I be productive today? How can I, myself, be productive and also enjoy the sluggishness of today?


It’s odd how life changes before you even have a moment to notice that it did. You get caught up in the commotion of the change, in the chaos of it all. When the dust settles, you look back and Whoa. What? I haven’t always known this kind of morning. And I don’t hate them – but I still don’t love them either. It’s an extremely gradual adjustment. For nearly four years, I woke up with another person and it was routine to do so. Coffee. Breakfast. Work.  Or coffee. Breakfast. Go out. Get stuff done. Together. Now I wake up and everything is on my own terms. When I ended that relationship, I didn’t quite predict these very independent, very private mornings.

I was having a lot of trouble deciphering betwe­en being alone and being lonely – but I think I’m beginning to understand. I think to be alone is to be independent and in a way, self-governing. A state of being. To be lonely is to be despondent because one feels they are completely without friends or company. A little bit weak and a little bit disheartened because of a lack of immediate companionship. A melancholic state of mind. So sometimes it hurts my heart a little to think that in the throes of a relationship going awry, I didn’t just give up the negative aspects of the relationship – I gave up familiarity and togetherness. 

Then again, it’s entirely possible (common, actually) to be in a relationship and still be lonely – I’m sure lots of us have been there, I know I have. The person you love doesn’t hear you, doesn’t see you. You’re wondering where they are (Ugh, what CITY THEY’RE IN – don’t worry, I’m still bashing my head against the metaphorical wall), why they aren’t calling, what they’re feeling. And that’s worse. Then that becomes the reason for separating. And in the end, you depart the relationship; you depart the feeling of loneliness to become alone. And once you are alone, you become content – you feel content. It’s a great paradox.

And being alone is an art form that is remarkable when it’s mastered. And it takes a long time, believe me. It’s burying your face in a book. I­t’s having a glass of Pinot on your porch in the early evening. It’s running those six miles at 7:30 on a Sunday morning. It’s writing a blog entry, uninterrupted. It’s completing a painting by your windowsill or finally finishing that song or acing that assignment or knitting that scarf. It’s a certain freedom. It’s learning what you like (Popcorn?! Where have you been my whole life.) and what you don’t like. It’s finding bliss within yourself, and your own company.

.. Let’s also not forget to be grateful for having a compassionate group of friends kicking around. 🙂

Being alone is recognizing and accepting that you don’t need someone else to be a complete person. And even just working on being okay with that is an enormous victory in itself.

You Might Also Like

  • Prairie Jess September 1, 2014 at 9:10 pm

    You are a fabulous human.

  • HollyAnn September 10, 2014 at 10:43 am

    This is fantastic love xoxo