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Lessons in Loneliness

I can hold my own hand

By: Camille Bugayong

Man standing on a road surrounded by fall trees
Photo By: James Roberts

If you had asked me one year ago what my biggest fear was, I would have said it was being alone. The idea of being confined to my room or left alone with my own thoughts was more frightening than heights, spiders, ghosts, and even getting a bad grade. It was as if there was a void I fell into when being alone that echoed all the things I disliked about myself. To fix this, I would make back-to-back plans that exhausted me and left me feeling drained. It was a poison that I did not enjoy but still soothed me more than spending time with the one person I couldn’t bear to hang out with: myself.

Of course, people will be people and couldn’t always spend time with me, so there were days and even weeks when I would fall into a deep spiral over being unable to distract myself from my own thoughts. I made an unhealthy habit of using my social life and productivity as a way to run from the issues I had yet to address. As long as I was out and with others, those issues weren’t real because they weren’t staring back at me.

Loneliness happens to everyone, and when it arrived at my doorstep, I was forced to face the fear that turned into one of the greatest lessons I ever learned. At first, being alone was excruciating, and doing activities that I would normally do with friends felt hard. I would force myself to eat alone in restaurants and go to movies by myself. While there was no one to argue with over splitting the check or sharing my popcorn, it was still difficult to sit with my own thoughts and actually enjoy the present moment.

In the following months, I would continue forcing myself to spend time alone, and without even realizing it, I began to prefer solitude over company. The peace of enjoying time alone is not comparable to the ease of being with others. There is a certain understanding within yourself when you accept that being alone is a good thing. Loneliness is regenerating and allows you to learn more about yourself every day. It aligns your goals and gives you a better understanding of what choices are the healthiest. Most importantly, it forces you to prioritize yourself and put yourself first.

The fear of loneliness haunts everyone, but instead of running from it, try jumping straight through it. Who knows, maybe you’ll love it so much that you’ll find it difficult to say yes to future plans.

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