May 17, 2021
I can’t seem to have a conversation with anyone these days without hearing how COVID is affecting their mental health and how lonely life has become. Yes, COVID has changed and rearranged our lives in ways that we didn’t imagine or anticipate. Yes, we had not planned for this new way of being. At the same time, COVID has also done something to and for us. It has forced us to spend time alone. Forced is the operative word. We were pushed into isolation and, for many, into darkness.
Recently in conversation with my woman friend, she reassured me that though she is alone, she is not lonely. That was a powerful statement. There’s a huge difference between being lonely and being alone. That conversation led me to revisit the many discussions that I had had previously with individuals about the value of being alone; the value of being your own best friend and dating yourself.
For so many, being alone is like a death sentence; it is scary. Presently, many are identifying being alone due to COVID, as a huge bruise to their mental well-being. The feeling of isolation is creating anxiety and fear amongst many. The message I want to share here is, “Don’t be afraid of being with yourself!”
Yes, having people around at all times seems to be a normal lifestyle for most. Physically grouping, touching, and socially gathering have always been defined as normal, healthy and needed but being alone can have its benefits as well. Yes, what we have perceived as “normal” is no longer operating in the same way. But what is normal? Was the previous norm the best thing for us all? Can there be a different form of “normal?” Is being normal synonymous to being healthy? Well, it depends on who is speaking. It also depends on how we can benefit from this new norm. Could being alone be beneficial?
In my efforts to “make sense out of nonsense,” I used a microscopic lens to accept and appreciate another form of normalcy. I have always known that if I can’t change things, I’d better learn how to manage them. I shifted back to the statement that my friend made recently, “I am alone but I am not lonely.” One of the many trials and tribulations that COVID imposed upon us is the experience of being alone more than usual. With this rearrangement, we are encouraged to be alone, a state that can have many, many advantages.
This is the time for us to embrace solitude. With solitude comes rewards such as, but not limited to, increased empathy, lessened negativity, boosted creativity and increased emotional intelligence. Solitude can create time for self-reflection, recharging , exploration of new interests and the development of a new sense of self. I’d say solitude is a gift!
“Take yourself on a date and become your own best friend!”
“You don’t have to be lonely!”