The other day, I was outside playing basketball–alone–when I was approached by a larger gentleman roughly my age. He had a lot of tattoos and asked if he could shoot with me. Being the introvert I am, I naturally felt inclined to say no. But I must’ve hit my head at some point during the day, because for whatever reason, I said, “Sure.”
(Question: When you’re enjoying your alone time, do you find it annoying when someone interrupts you wanting to talk or hangout? Is that just me? Am I that much of an introvert?)
While we were shooting some basketball, I took it upon myself to spark up a conversation. You know–as if simply hanging out with someone wasn’t weird enough for me. During our little bit of small talk, I learned the guy had just recently returned home after spending several years in prison. He said he’s been living with family but wants to start living on his own soon. When he learned that I live on my own, 1,600 miles away from family, his first question was, “Don’t you get lonely?”
What’s left of my family moved to California when I was 18, and I stayed in good ol’ Texas. I’ve been happily (most of the time) on my own for six years now, so I’ve gotten that question quite a bit. I’ve realized my response is always the same: I’ll shrug and say “Eh…”
Do I get lonely? Of course I do. Humans are a species meant to communicate. We all want to feel wanted and accepted and that can be hard when your home is in a faraway land and you’re not exactly the outgoing type. I do get lonely. At times, incredibly so. But I’m really not lonely as often as you may think. Things were much worse in the beginning. Allow me to explain.
Before leaving to Cali, Dad–my supportive, motivating, tough-loving father–, told me, “You either sink, or you swim.” Long story short, despite my confidence in my doggy paddling capabilities, I sank. Like a rock. Straight to the bottom. But it was what needed to happen, because though swimming back to the surface for air was difficult, it taught me to swim well. It pushed me to my limits and helped me discover strengths I didn’t know I had.
“Sometimes you need to take a break from everyone and spend time alone to experience, appreciate, and love yourself.”
– Robert Tew
One thing I learned in the process was that you have to adapt. If you endure something long enough, you learn how to adjust.
Nowadays, I find anything BUT loneliness to be a struggle. The way I see it, people, relationships–they just slow me down. I have routines, hobbies, habits…. Most importantly though, I have dreams. These dreams are my obsessions, and I seem to always be chasing them. Through my time of being alone, I’ve developed this lone wolf mentality, and I guess that’s what keeps me going. But, like I said, I do still get lonely.
The best advice I can give to anyone regarding loneliness (whether you’re living on your own or just feeling alone in general), is to embrace the loneliness. You’re going to have moments in life when you feel alone. That’s inevitable. The worst thing you can do is run from it. That doesn’t solve anything. Honestly, for me, the best things come from being alone. That’s when I have time for self-reflection and to do what’s best for me. Next time you feel lonely, don’t run from it. Instead, face it head on and see what you can’t make from it. Embrace it. Endure and adapt. Learn to swim.
How do you deal with loneliness? Let me know in the comments 🙂
Thanks for reading, everyone!