• Patrick McAndrew

Do You Feel Lonely While Alone?

Are there times when you feel lonely?  Do you find yourself being alone a lot and wish you were out and about living it up with friends?  Do you enjoy being alone, or does it crush you into a pit of despair?

Many of us often use the terms “alone” and “lonely” interchangeably, but they are actually quite different.  While alone is a state of being, lonely is a subjective emotion, though many of us will equate this emotion to when we are physically alone.

Although we often feel lonely when we are alone, just because we are alone does not mean we are lonely.  Many people thoroughly enjoy their alone time, away from the never-ending stimulus of people that they interact with every day.  And, when we are alone, we have the opportunity to work on ourselves, our goals, our dreams, and simply think and ponder about life.

Loneliness, on the other hand, is an emotion felt when we crave the company of others.  While there are many people who enjoy their alone time, many of us dislike being alone, opting for the company of one or more people.  Although loneliness is often associated with sadness and depression, we can feel lonely if we simply want people around.

Many extroverts, who fuel off the energy of other people, prefer to be around large groups and social gatherings while introverts tend to savor their alone time.  I believe it’s best to have an equal balance of both.

For those who know me, I love to be around people.  “What’s that you say?  A friendly gathering?  I’m there!  Someone’s birthday?  Will there be cake?  Count me in!  Games? Prepare to lose! (jk..tee hee)” I’m someone who enjoys company.  But don’t be so hasty, my friend, for those who have lived with me also know that I take advantage of being alone.  This is especially true when I am working on something.  I get my best work done when I’m alone, but I also love reading, practicing guitar, and writing, while alone.  I have even gone to the movies and, in a rarer case, gone out to dinner by myself.  Depending on our acquaintance, some may argue I’m more of an extrovert, while others believe I lean more on the introverted side.  Holla ambiverts!

But enough about me!  Practical Psychology created a video distinguishing aloneness and loneliness that you can watch below.  Oddly, they posted their video TODAY, the very day I decided to write on this topic.  Peculiar indeed…

I guess I should get to the point now.  My point is that we do not know how to be alone.  Because we don’t know how to be alone, we succumb more and more to loneliness.  With the creation of a device that always has us digitally connected, we do not have to be alone.  Why be alone when we have illusory companionship right in the palm of our hands?  Because of this, in those rare moments where we aren’t completely connected, we feel lonely.  We feel like we don’t have a support system around us.

Always-on technology prevents us from taking advantage of our alone time.  We are unable to focus in-depth because our phones always buzz with notifications saying, “Pay attention to me!”  Because of this, we are unable to stay focused on certain tasks.  How many of us have spent more of our days dealing with petty distractions than with actually work?

But it’s not only work-related aloneness that we are missing out on.  We aren’t reading.  We aren’t writing.  We aren’t thinking.  We aren’t relaxing without the assist from an electronic device.  Without this acquiring of knowledge, we are unable to fully get to know ourselves.  We are unable to truly discover what it is we want to get out of life.  We can’t think critically about how we want to change our current situations.  And this is because we don’t know how to be alone.  In the times we can be alone, with ourselves and with our thoughts, our smartphones are always a reach away.  And many of us will suck up that precious alone time staring at our screens, scrolling through social media and websites that have no real impact on ourselves and our future.

No wonder almost three-quarters of Americans feel lonely at least once per week.  It seems to me that we need to be taught on how to be alone and how to cultivate that time to make it more effective and impactful on our lives.  If we do that, I have no doubt that we can then have a stronger influence on each other when we’re not alone.  And this will, I believe, lead to less loneliness.

What are your thoughts?  Can being alone be a good thing?  Do we waste our alone time?  What else makes us feel so lonely?  Let me hear your thoughts below!


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