They say life is a journey of some kind. And maybe it is, maybe it isn’t even that. But certainly I believe part of it is about learning lessons. And sometimes, we have to learn to be lonely, and be okay with it too.
Loneliness is going to be a part of our lives at some point. For some more than others maybe, but like happiness or sadness it is inevitable. For me, loneliness wasn’t about having no family. It wasn’t about not going to school or college or eventually work. I had all those things and had friends because of it. But you know what they say, sometimes in a crowded room you can still feel alone. So lesson number one was this: people don’t make you feel welcome, the right people do.
Making the decision to slowly remove yourself from those you feel familiar with because you know they’re no good for you and your journey is a tough thing to do, especially as a young person. It means being alone for a bit whilst you figure out where you need to be going. But that doesn’t have to mean you’re lonely. I spent hours in my room deciding on the big things like leaving school, starting a new job, thinking about my future – all on my own. And that time was the time I needed to clearly define who I was, not what my peer group were and not what I thought I should be. So in a way, being “friendless” taught me more about interacting with people than I thought possible – because it taught me who I should be interacting with.
Lesson number two is that loneliness only lasts as long as you ignore it. Thinking that the feeling will go away is a dangerous game you’ll play with yourself in the hope it’s a phase or a 2am phenomenon you can’t help. It’s not. Getting to the root cause of the feeling is something you have to push yourself to do because once you’ve figured that out, the rest usually falls into place. Once the foundations are fixed, you’ll find yourself feeling it less and less. Maybe it won’t go completely, but it’ll become bearable.
Which brings me to my final lesson learned from that dreaded feeling of being lonely. Being lonely is okay! It’s okay to feel alone at any point in your life. And in fact, it can even work to your benefit. It can help you realise you’re in the wrong friendship, relationship, career. It’s the minds way of telling you to get the hell out of that rut and don’t look back, much like a stitch tells you that you shouldn’t have run that cross country so fast. Listen to your loneliness because it’s telling you something. And when you figure out what that thing is, you’ll thank that feeling and maybe even welcome it again one day as a chance to clear out everything that’s wrong.
Don’t be scared of being alone. Sometimes it’s necessary. Sometimes it’s there to teach you a lesson. And sometimes it’s a pain in the backside. But it’s most definitely always temporary… Like most things in life. And finally: Never feel like you’re completely alone because you always have yourself. Remember that if nothing else you’ve read.
P.S. For when you do feel a little helpless, and after midnight is the worst for this, something I often do is look out my window at the stars. Being alone doesn’t seem so scary when all that is out there too.