IT'S GOOD TO BE ALONE
by Irene Kim
ALONE VS. LONELY:
breaking down the difference
“How was your weekend?”
“It was great. It was nice spending a few days alone.”
What’s with people’s natural aversion to the word “alone”? Maybe it’s the subconscious connotation of loneliness we tend to give to the word. But let me tell you, being alone and being lonely don’t go hand in hand.
I guess you can say in recent years, my life has been pretty fast-paced; sometimes the combination of school, work, family and (boy/girl)friends doesn’t always give you as much “you time” as you’d like. It’s always something, right? -- a catch up dinner with the parents, drinks with those friends who’ve been nagging you to come out with them for once, finishing that project that’s due in less than 48 hours. But I guess I became so used to always doing something that over the past few months, when my life finally started to slow down, I didn’t know what to do with all this extra time. Friends always had work obligations or other plans, dating was a bust, and school wouldn’t start again until the Fall. I was drowning in nothingness. I became lonely.
There I was, letting this loneliness swallow me. It’s funny because I had all this energy I wanted to exert, but nowhere to invest it. I was going crazy. I would stare at the white walls of my bedroom praying they would turn pink on their own, but after weeks of hoping for a splash of color, surprise surprise -- they remained white.
And that’s when I did the “wildest” thing I could think of: I went on a walk. I couldn’t sit still in my room any longer, so I grabbed my headphones, keys and phone and headed straight for the park right outside my apartment. It’s bizarre because we walk everyday; to the grocery store, subway station, work, etc. but this walk was different. It was the first time I felt like I was really walking for myself. It was in this hour and a half of mindlessly wandering that I felt this intense sense of accomplishment and relief. Sure, I’ve been to the gym and gone on runs a ton of times before, but my mental health always took a back seat to the guilt of maintaining my physical health. It was just a simple walk but I suddenly felt this spike of motivation and curiosity to explore what else I could do to fill myself up with the similar feelings this walk gave me.
Over the next few weeks, whether it be as simple as making a home-cooked meal or something a bit more challenging like rock climbing, I began actively incorporating new habits into my weekly routine. I’m not saying that everything I tried worked out for me, because trust me, I definitely realized trying to spend an hour in the morning to meditate was just not for me. But hey, if not for anything else, at least now I’ve learned what works for me and what doesn’t.
I saw myself gradually shift from being alone and lonely to being alone and full. Do I still have moments when I feel a bit lonely? Sure. I think it’s human nature for us all to feel that way at times. But it’s not about distracting yourself from the loneliness, rather it’s about understanding yourself and what satisfies your soul’s cravings. We often dilute the importance of self-care, as with most things, our generation tends to carelessly throw around the term, but finding the one thing that elevates you into a healthier headspace will change your life in a way that I can’t even explain in words. It’s a feeling, and when you find it, you’ll just know.
So friends, I encourage you to stay curious, always challenge yourself, and find what makes you feel full.
Irene Kim is the Assistant Editor at the The Sunday Issue and Marketing Assistant at Sunday Forever. When not creating magical content you can find her dining with her friends at some cool new place every single night. Follow Irene @_irenekim