The words alone and lonely are often contemplated as the same thing. It’s an easy misconception considering they share the same four consecutive letters. However, whilst sitting in Australia’s National Library alone, I don’t feel lonely. Embraced by the comfort of books, I’m enticed into their magical world of wonder.
But what about when I leave this sanctuary? I’m seized by loneliness. I’m an easy victim; new to Canberra, living on my own away from loved ones and knowing only my landlady.
Some would suggest to join a club, take a class, have a drink down the local. But then what? You return to an empty house, have dinner for one and jump on social media to feel ‘connected’. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes these private moments have been blissful. However, having this previously conceived luxury 24/7, the novelty’s worn off. It’s been replaced by this sense of dread as I contemplate an endless stretch of solitude.
This is simply because I struggle to enjoy my own company. I don’t want to hear what I have to say or what I think, not unless someone else is listening to credit me for it. When on my own, I complete my pastimes half-heartedly, the other half seeking social interaction and acceptance to fulfil my constant need for approval.
A prime example of mine is going for walks, being out in nature and, mostly, sharing the experience. Yet when this can’t happen, my music is on or I’m ringing around for company, consequently distracting myself from opportunities to ask after myself and to listen to my thoughts.
This happens with most things I do alone. So it’s with this confirmed social dependency that I realise changes need to be made. As individuals, it’s beneficial to listen to ourselves, as we require self-understanding to help gain a sense of wellbeing and happiness. Furthermore, how can we be ourselves if we don’t know who we truly are? When we’re with others we find our social selves; whether we’re funny, talkative, quiet or shy. But how do we learn what we’re like on our own if we’re always seeking to distract ourselves from being alone?
Therefore, during this new independent life chapter, I’ve rediscovered myself. I’ve found a deeper appreciation for nature and value in libraries. I’ve realised that when I’m alone it doesn’t mean I’m lonely. It’s okay to ask yourself “What would you like to do?” and listen to your answer. It’s okay to laugh aloud when no-one’s around. It’s okay to be sad and console yourself with soothing words.
By embarking on this journey of self-actualisation I’ve found from deep within that I’m strong, determined and brave, even when I cry. I’m prouder of myself than I’ve ever been. I keep myself company and give myself space. I’ve never been listened to or understood to the extent that myself has achieved. I hold the utmost value in this new friendship, so ‘’Thank you, me.’’
- Laura Winstanley; [email protected]
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